Tuesday, January 31, 2017

MLK’s Legacy and the Developing Class Character of the Freedom Struggle 
Abayomi Azikiwe at Grosse Pointe High School South on
Jan. 14, 2017. (Photo: Linda Willis, Detroit MLK Committee.)
During 1967-8 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to articulate a deeper program for the movement against national oppression and economic injustice

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
January 30, 2017
African American History Month Series No. 1

Just three weeks prior to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on March 14, 1968, the co-founder and President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) honored an invitation from the Grosse Pointe Human Relations Council to speak on the topic of “The Other America.” He was to examine the-then debate over “open housing” for African Americans amid an unprecedented wave of urban rebellions across the United States.

On July 23, 1967, seven months prior to Dr. King’s visit to Grosse Pointe High School, an affluent suburb on the border with Detroit-- the city had exploded in a five day rebellion led by the African American community which resulted in 43 deaths, hundreds of injuries, 7,200 arrests, with estimates of property damage ranging into the tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars. The issues which sparked the social unrest were related to the abysmal conditions fostered by police brutality, labor discrimination, overcrowded housing districts contained through de facto segregationist policies, and inadequate schools with bulging classroom sizes and declining infrastructure.

Dr. King had been developing his views on the concept of the “Other America” for at least one year when he addressed the same subject in a major speech at Stanford University in California on April 14, 1967. After the enormous gains of the Civil Rights Movement between 1955 and 1965, the focus of SCLC and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) shifted substantially to the municipalities in the Northern and Western states where huge swaths of depressed neighborhoods housed millions of African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Native Americans and poor whites.

The White Backlash and Opposition to the Vietnam War

Not only had SCLC moved into the city of Chicago during 1966 in an effort to test its evolving program centered around jobs, housing and income, the organization in early 1967 had come out solidly in opposition to the U.S. bombing and occupation of Vietnam. Dr. King saw the war as an enemy of the African American people as well as the poor people in general.

In Chicago, white working and middle class people resisted the demands of the Freedom Movement. They were supported and encouraged by the-then administration of Mayor Richard Daley, who rejected the call for drastic action to eliminate slums, housing discrimination and poverty in the nation’s second largest city.

The eruption of a rebellion on July 12 which lasted four days was blamed on the work of SCLC even though the organization maintained its ideological commitment to a nonviolent methodology of struggle. Although the outcome of the Chicago Freedom Movement won limited results for the people of the city, it portended much for the developments over the next three years.

At Grosse Pointe High School Dr. King was met by 2,700 people who crowded the gymnasium where he was to deliver his talk. Nonetheless, there was a completely hostile response to his presence in the suburb as well. Members of the ultra-conservative racist organization called Breakthrough along with the Grosse Pointe Property Owners Association argued that his presence could prompt violence and consequently should be banned. A vote by the Grosse Pointe School Board in favor of allowing the meeting by a 5-2 margin was accompanied by the requirement of taking out a one million dollar insurance policy in the event that people were injured or killed. (Grosse Pointe News, Jan. 5, 2017)

Breakthrough, which was headed by a City of Detroit Recreation Department employee Donald Lobsinger, led a picket line outside of the school. Approximately 200 Breakthrough members and supporters chanted against Dr. King’s appearance denouncing him as a “traitor” and “communist” for his stance in opposition to the Vietnam War among other issues.

Later members of the neo-fascist group infiltrated the audience at Grosse Pointe High School and repeatedly interrupted the speech. Dr. King said that they would never discourage him from doing the important work of linking the Civil Rights and Peace movements together. He clearly identified the African American struggle as having a decisively class character due to the economic exploitation of the people.

One of the most important sections of the address came when Dr. King observed: “Now let me get back to the point that I was trying to bring out about the economic problem. And that is one of the most critical problems that we face in America today.  We find in the other America unemployment constantly rising to astronomical proportions and Black people generally find themselves living in a literal depression. All too often when there is mass unemployment in the Black community, it's referred to as a social problem and when there is mass unemployment in the white community, it's referred to as a depression. But there is no basic difference. The fact is that the Negro (word used to describe people of African descent in the U.S. at the time) faces a literal depression all over the U.S.  The unemployment rate on the basis of statistics from the labor department is about 8.8 per cent in the Black community. But these statistics only take under consideration individuals who were once in the labor market, or individuals who go to employment offices to seek employment. But they do not take under consideration the thousands of people who have given up, who have lost motivation, the thousands of people who have had so many doors closed in their faces that they feel defeated and they no longer go out and look for jobs, the thousands who've come to feel that life is a long and desolate corridor with no exit signs. These people are considered the discouraged and when you add the discouraged to the individuals who can't be calculated through statistics in the unemployment category, the unemployment rate in the Negro community probably goes to 16 or 17 percent.  And among Black youth, it is in some communities as high as 40 and 45 percent.

The SCLC then went on to say: “the problem of unemployment is not the only problem. There is the problem of under-employment, and there are thousands and thousands, I would say millions of people in the Negro community who are poverty stricken - not because they are not working but because they receive wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the main stream of the economic life of our nation. Most of the poverty stricken people of America are persons who are working every day and they end up getting part-time wages for full-time work. So the vast majority of Negroes in America find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. This has caused a great deal of bitterness. It has caused a great deal of agony. It has caused ache and anguish. It has caused great despair, and we have seen the angered expressions of this despair and this bitterness in the violent rebellions that have taken place in cities all over our country. Now I think my views on non-violence are pretty generally known. I still believe that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to the Negro in his struggle for justice and freedom in the U.S.”

Towards a Principled United Front in Opposition to Racism and Fascism

During Labor Day weekend in the previous year 1967, Dr. King was a featured speaker at the National Conference for New Politics (NCNP) held in Chicago. Thousands attended the event which sought to draft anti-nuclear weapons activist and Vietnam War opponent, Dr. Benjamin Spock, the renowned pediatrician and writer, as a presidential candidate for 1968, with Dr. King as his running mate.

The concept of the NCNP was to build a broad-based alliance purportedly independent of the Democratic Party which took a position against the Vietnam War. Nonetheless, there were other issues that hampered the smooth operation of such a united front strategy.

Paralleling the NCNP was the Black Congress, also held in Chicago, which demanded that the question of African American liberation be not only placed on the NCNP agenda but also the granting of the nationally oppressed delegates to the conference veto power over all resolutions and platforms. Elements of the Black Congress program were manifested in the NCNP Black Caucus demands. These issues related to taking a principled stand against Zionism, support for armed struggle in the liberation of Southern Africa, recognition of African Americans as the vanguard of the people’s movement in the U.S., and other questions.

In addition, there were grave concerns that the appeals to adopt this agenda supporting African American liberation, the question of Palestine self-determination, opposition to Israeli aggression against Egypt, Jordan and Syria and a halt to support for the State of Israel by Washington, were conveniently left off of the NCNP agenda. James Forman, who was serving at the time as the SNCC International Affairs Director, addressed the NCNP Black Caucus raising the demands for veto power and solidarity with the struggle of the oppressed.

Forman emphasized in his address to the NCNP Black Caucus that: “I hardly need to talk about the exploited labor of all us who are Black and who tilled the fields without pay while the white man reinvested the capital from our labor. Therefore, even today, here in the United States we are the lowest class on the economic ladder.” (Sept. 2, 1967)

The SNCC leader went on to note: “There can be no new concept of politics, no new coalitions unless those of us who are the most disposed assume leadership and give direction to that new form of politics. If this does not happen we are going to see the same old liberal-labor treachery of very rich white folks and Democratic Party oriented whites and Negroes trying to determine what they can do for us.”

These words are quite useful to the current developing struggle in 2017 in the aftermath of the assumption of power by President Donald Trump. Millions have taken to the streets in support of women’s and immigrant rights, the question of self-determination for the indigenous people at Standing Rock, against police brutality, the suppression of the African American vote, etc.

However, unless the alliances that are forming are based upon principled political positions, these efforts will inevitably lead right back into the Democratic Party with its betrayal of the working class, poor and nationally oppressed. A revolutionary leadership must emerge to provide a programmatic thrust aimed at exposing and defeating the exploitative and dictatorial system of capitalism and imperialism.

Note: The author covered the 49th anniversary commemoration of Dr. King’s speech at Grosse Pointe High School South (as it is now known) on January 14, 2017. An audio file of the actual address was played to the audience before a discussion on the historic event. This program was sponsored by the newly-formed Grosse Pointe Chapter of the NAACP. 
African Union Elects New Commission Chair While Criticizing United States Immigration Policy
Those who once enslaved the continent’s people are barring them from entry as guests and refugees

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Monday January 30, 2017

At its 28th Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African Union (AU) has selected a new chair of its commission for the 54-member continental organization. Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat was placed in the position after a highly politicized process lasting several months, spanning over three regions of the continent.

Chad, a country whose government maintains close relations with the former colonial power of France and the United States, won the endorsement of 39 states at the Summit.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, who was a favorite of many within the East Africa and across other regions, failed to secure enough support to prevail. The first woman AU Commission Chair, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of the Republic of South Africa, did not seek a second term after serving an additional six months due to the unsuccessful previous attempts to elect her successor.

Mahamat won in the fourth round of voting by AU member-states. Mohamed was the runner up to the position.

The Chadian foreign minister, who is 55-years-old, served as prime minister of the Central African state during 2003-2005. He has close ties with long-time President Idris Deby and belongs to the ruling Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS).

Born in the eastern region of Chad in the town of Biltine, Mahamat has been involved in national and continental politics for many years. In 1982, he joined the Democratic Revolutionary Council led by Acheikh Ibm Oumar after going into exile in the aftermath of the ascendancy of former leader Hissen Habre on June 7, 1982. He returned to the country in 1991 after Deby had taken power.

Subsequently, he was a director-general of at least two government ministries before becoming the head of the cabinet of President Deby’s government. He would later serve as Director of the National Sugar Company from 1996-1999.

In 2001, Mahamat ran the presidential campaign of Deby and was appointed the Minister of Public Works and Transport under the government of Prime Minister Haround Kabadi.  

Outgoing Dlamini-Zuma was the also the first chair to emanate from the sub-continent where the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa has maintained state power for over two decades. There is speculation in South Africa that the former commission chair will seek the leadership position in the ruling party although this has not been officially announced inside the country.

The Lack of National Security and Economic Stability

There are numerous challenging problems within the AU member-states in 2017. The African continent is facing a growing economic crisis resulting from the decline in oil, natural gas and other commodity prices on the international market. In many states, the national currencies are in rapid decline prompting inflationary pressure and a shortage of foreign exchange.

Also the role of the U.S. Africa Command looms large over the future of the continent amid uneasiness about the rise of Islamic extremism and terrorist attacks. Chad joined with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger in a united military alliance to combat the Boko Haram group whose rebel attacks in the northeast of Nigeria have spread to border areas of these contiguous states.

Nonetheless, AFRICOM is involved with several West and Central African states under the guise of providing training and military resources ostensibly designed to enhance the security capacity of various AU member governments. A recent Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervention in Gambia was largely carried out by Senegal which has a joint cooperation agreement with AFRICOM and conducts annual maneuvers with the Pentagon entity in conjunction with NATO alongside numerous other military forces from throughout the region.

Although the Nigerian government announced in December that Boko Haram had been driven from its last major stronghold in the Sambisa Forest, asymmetric attacks have continued in some areas. Economic difficulties in the Lake Chad border regions have also been cited as providing a basis for recruitment by Boko Haram.

The crisis of climate change resulting in the shortages of water poses a profound challenge to the region. According to an article published by Deutsche Welle: "’Lake Chad is dying.’ President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger was peremptory in his speech at the opening of the Paris Climate Conference on Monday, November 30 (2015). He was seconded by his counterparts from Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, all neighboring countries around Lake Chad. Once, the landlocked lake measured more than 25,000 square kilometers (9,700 square miles). Now it covers just 1,500 square kilometers (580 square miles).”

This same report continues emphasizing that: “Droughts in the 1970s and 1980s caused Lake Chad to dry up almost completely, reducing reservoirs and putting the livelihood of millions at risk. ’In Nigeria's northeastern town of Baga there was an inn called 'By the Harbor.' But already in those days the harbor was three kilometers (1.9 miles) away,’ recalls Norbert Cyffer. He used to be a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri in northern Nigeria in the 70s. This allowed him to observe how the water in Lake Chad shrank to a tenth of its original volume over the years.”

In addition to the military questions and Pentagon interventions, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Africa’s participation within it has been debated for the last four years. Kenya, an East African state targeted by the ICC, has expressed a desire to withdraw from the Rome Statue, which governs the judicial body based in the Netherlands. The Kenyan President and Vice President Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto respectively were both under investigation by the ICC. The case against Kenyatta was dismissed through lack of evidence. Ruto later had his charges vacated as well in April of 2016.

The ICC has been exclusively pre-occupied with the investigation, indictment and prosecution of African presidents and rebel leaders. At present, the ousted President of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, is imprisoned in the Netherlands facing trail by the ICC. Gbagbo was overthrown by French commandos backed up by rebel units in 2011. He was transported into exile while the government of the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) functionary, President Alassane Ouattara, was installed in the agricultural and oil producing West African country.

Kenya’s opposition to the actions of the ICC may have played a role in the failure of its foreign minister to acquire the post of commission chair. The current leaders of Kenya were not the candidates favored by the U.S. and Britain during the elections in 2013.

The North African monarchy of Morocco, which has close ties with the U.S., was readmitted into the AU after withdrawing from its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1984, when the body recognized the right to self-determination and independence for the people of the Western Sahara. 39 states voted for readmission while 15 were in opposition, saying until the people of the region have the right to self-determination as mandated by the United Nations, Morocco remains an occupying force.

The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, headed by the Polisario Front, is currently recognized by the AU as the legitimate government in exile. This area of the northern Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since 1976 when Spain withdrew its claim as a colonial power over the territory.

It seems highly unlikely that the AU will reverse its position on the Western Sahara. The continental body has been committed since its inception to national independence for former colonized states and peoples.

U.S. Immigration Policy and the AU

Dlamini-Zuma during the AU Summit criticized the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump for his executive orders banning entry into America from three Africa states: Libya, Sudan and Somalia. Noting that it was the U.S. which had enslaved Africans for over two centuries is now barring its citizens from access into the country on spurious grounds. These African states along with Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Iran in the Middle East have rejected the notion that their nationals constitute a threat to U.S. security.

In light of the taking of power by Trump, Dlamini-Zuma described the situation involving U.S.-Africa relations as turbulent. “The very country to which many of our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries,” said Dlamini-Zuma. (Independent, UK, Jan. 30)

The consistent precarious status of diplomatic, economic and military relations with the imperialist states cannot be overcome amid the ongoing dependency on the part of African governments on these former colonial and present neo-colonial powers.  Until the continent can chart its own course, Africa and its institutions will remain marginalized in regard to fostering development and exerting continental influence in world affairs.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sun. Jan. 29, 2017--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this special edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the podcast of this episode go to the URL below:

The program features our regular PANW report with dispatches on the international furor over the ban on millions from Muslim dominated states in North Africa and the Middle East by the Trump administration; the African Union is to decide on the new commission chair at its summit taking place this week; the UK government has denied a hearing to victims of the environmental damage done by the extraction of oil from Nigeria; and the West African state of Ghana has experienced an explosion at a local oil production facility.

In the second hour we review the Memphis sanitation workers strike of early 1968 which brought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the that Southern city leading to his assassination on April 4.

Finally we hear excerpts from the speeches of Coretta Scott King. 
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sat. Jan. 28, 2017--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to the Sat. Jan. 28, 2017 edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the podcast of this program just click on the website below:

The program includes our regular PANW reports with dispatches on the closing of more than 20 schools in the city of Detroit which has been subjected to emergency management and other forms of outside interference for the last 18 years; United States President Donald Trump has signed an executive order in defiance of the Indigenous people at Standing Rock to resume construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL); the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has sharply criticized the decision by Trump to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico; and the Egyptian foreign minister has met with his Ethiopian counterpart to discuss the development of the Great Renaissance Dam Project.

In the second hour we will rebroadcast a radio lecture by Abayomi Azikiwe from 2014 chronicling the historical crisis of the underdevelopment of the city of Detroit within the context of the continuing attacks on African Americans.

Finally we conclude our monthlong tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. examining his opposition to the war in Vietnam. 
The South African Communist Party's Secret Moscow Papers
James Myburgh
31 January 2017

James Myburgh on the striking new information that has emerged about the Party's influence on the ANC in the early 1960s

The nature of the relationship between the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress, at the time of the turn to the armed struggle in the early 1960s, was (for decades) at the centre of an intense propaganda war in the West between sympathisers and critics of the national liberation movement.

At the Rivonia trial the State had charged that the ANC and SACP had not only “worked in close union” in the conspirators’ efforts to violently overthrow the existing order, but also that the “former was completely dominated by the latter. In fact, the aims and objects of the ANC were the aims and objects of the SACP.”

The state further charged that, according to some of the documents found, “Moscow had promised and assured every sort and manner of assistance in their campaign, but its co-operation and involvement was not be to revealed or made public property because of possible international repercussions.”

In his statement from the dock Nelson Mandela had responded by stating that “the suggestion made by the State in its opening that the struggle in South Africa is under the influence of foreigners or communists is wholly incorrect.” He denied having been a member of the SACP (as did Walter Sisulu in his testimony) and claimed to be a great admirer of the institutions of Western democracy.

This ‘line’ was one followed by many liberal Western sympathisers of the ANC over the following four decades. One of the most influential of these was Thomas G. Karis who, together with Gwendolen Carter, wrote an early and authoritative treatment of the liberation movement in the 1950s and 1960s.[1] In a 1986 article Karis stated:

“African, Indian and white Communists have influenced the course of the ANC to an extent greater than their numbers, but they have not dominated or controlled the movement.” This would require believing inter alia “that young African nationalists such as Mandela, Tambo or Walter Sisulu had come to accept the discipline of a minor and doctrinaire party or were manipulated by it.”[2]

Over the past decade however much information, contrary to this naïve Western view, started filtering out as old comrades – their battle long won (and lost) – started speaking more frankly about the role they and others (such as Mandela) had played in the Party in the late 1950s and early 1960s.[3]

A further breakthrough in our understanding of this critical period in South African history has come with the surfacing in the archives of four documents which senior SACP leaders prepared for meetings in Moscow in the early 1960s. These are reported on in two academic journal articles published in late 2015 by Tom Lodge and the late Stephen Ellis, in the South African Historical Journal and Cold War History respectively.

The documents

The documents concerned were contained in the personal papers which SACP, MK and ANC veteran Ronnie Kasrils turned over to the Wits historical papers research archive in 2013. Limited references to the same documents can be found in the book ANC: A view from Moscow by the Russian academic and former Soviet official, Vladimir Shubin, who seems to also have had copies in his personal possession.

These documents are the following:

1.) “The Political Situation in the Union of South Africa / The Situation in the South African Communist Party”, document(s) presented on behalf of the SACP Central Committee to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union by Yusuf Dadoo, Chairman, and Veli Pillay, Representative in Europe, Moscow 14 July 1960

2.) “Some notes on the Communist Party of South Africa”, document prepared by the SACP’s leading theoretician and CC member, Michael Harmel, while part of the SACP delegation attending the International Meeting of the Communist and Workers’ Parties in Moscow in November / early December 1960

3.) “Notes on Some Aspect of the Political Situation in the Republic of South Africa”, by Moses Kotane, General Secretary of the SACP, Moscow, 9th November 1961

4.) An untitled memorandum which Ellis says was written by Michael Harmel and which post-dates October 1962. It appears to be the same document which Shubin says Arthur Goldreich and Vella Pillay presented to a Soviet delegation ahead of a meeting in Moscow in January 1963. It will be referred to as “the memorandum” in this article.

Together this material describes in considerable detail, and from its own perspective, the role the Party had played in the Congress Alliance in the 1950s and in the turn to the armed struggle in the early 1960s.

Origins of the SACP and influence over the Freedom Charter

The (until then legal) Communist Party of South Africa had been dissolved in 1950 ahead of the Suppression of Communism Act of June 1950 finally passing into law. In his November 1960 paper Harmel says that towards the end of 1950 a group of “leading comrades gathered around Comrade Kotane in Johannesburg” had decided to build the Party up again on new lines, “lines which would enable it to work and survive in the new conditions” of illegality.

A meeting held in Easter 1952 (?) in Johannesburg decided to form a new Communist Party underground. Brian Bunting, one Ngwavela, Moses Kotane, Bram Fischer, Yusuf Dadoo, Rusty Bernstein, Vernon Berrangé, and Michael Harmel were all in favour of the proposal with Sam Kahn the only attendee against, after which he left the meeting. This meeting decided to form district committees in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Durban and to prepare a programme and rules for a national conference, which was duly held in early 1953. The name of the party was changed to the South African Communist Party to distinguish it from the old entity.

Harmel described the mode of operation of the Party as follows:

“The membership is organised in groups of three or four. In the small districts each group is in direct contact with the district committee, through a member who attends the group meetings. In Johannesburg each group are in contact with a branch committee, and the branch committees in turn are represented on the district committees.

"Members are obliged to pay subs, attend group meetings and study classes in Marxism-Leninism, support Party policy and carry out practical work under Party guidance. Strict principles of democratic centralism are observed.

"It is a cardinal rule that no member may divulge his own or anyone else’s membership of the Party, or any other information about the Party, to any person, without the express decision of the district Committee.

"At national conference only part of the Central Committee is elected. Those elected co-opt the others. Thus, Conference members are not aware of the composition of the full C.C.”

The main work of the party following its re-establishment was directed towards building a “united front of national liberation” – the alliance of democratic and trade union organisations known as the Congress Alliance. This had proved remarkably successful with the mass movement growing greatly in “strength, unity and political understanding.”

The Freedom Charter unreservedly adopted at the Congress of the People at Kliptown in 1955 by every section of the Congress movement, Harmel noted, “is identical in all its main provisions to the demands set forth in the immediate programme of the SACP adopted in 1953.” The “main draftsman” of the Charter, he wrote elsewhere in the document, was Central Committee member Rusty Bernstein who had served “as the delegate of the Congress of Democrats on the Drafting Commission.”

The subsequent Treason Trial involved “nearly all” members of the Central Committee. A majority were among the 156 leaders arrested, while the few not arrested were actively involved in legal defence and the organisation of protests. In 1959 the first step towards the “emergence” of the Party was taken with the issuing of the first edition of the “African Communist.”

Between the national conference in 1958 and the declaration of the State of Emergency on 30 March 1960 the Central Committee consisted of 15 members. The executive, which met once a week, consisted of seven people: Kotane (General Secretary), Dadoo (Chairman), Walter Sisulu, Fischer, Rusty Bernstein, Joe Slovo and Harmel. The other members were JB Marks, Dan Tloome, Ruth First, Brian Bunting, Fred Carneson, Ray Alexander, Raymond Mhlaba and MP Naicker. Between meetings the practical work was carried on by a Secretariat of three members composed of Kotane, Harmel and Sisulu.

The police raids following the declaration of a state of emergency after the Sharpeville massacre in March 1960 – in which thousands were arrested - targeted every single member of the Central Committee, with the exception of Bram Fischer. However, Kotane, Dadoo, Ruth First, Harmel and Fred Carneson were able to evade capture, with Dadoo then leaving the country. The entire Johannesburg district committee of the Party was arrested, as well as about half the membership, and in Port Elizabeth the whole membership was in prison throughout the five months of the state of emergency. During the emergency Ben Turok, Bartholomew Hlapane, Bob Hepple and Joe Matthews (who was Basutoland based) were co-opted onto the CC.

Although heavy casualties were suffered during this period, with 150 Communists arrested and kept in prison for five months without charge or trial, the Party “came out of the crisis period “a great deal stronger than it entered it”, according to Harmel.

The emergency period saw important steps taken to correct weaknesses that had been exposed, “brought forward outstanding new cadres, and above all the implementation of the decision to emerge in our own name” (a decision taken at an extending Central Committee meeting in June 1960).

Influence of the SACP over the Congress Alliance

In its submissions to the CPSU in the early 1960s the SACP emphasised the “considerable” influence it had exercised over the Congress Alliance, which was comprised of five organisations: the ANC, the (white) Congress of Democrats, the South African Indian Congress, the South African Coloured People’s Congress and the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU). This was despite the Party’s small membership, which Kotane put at between 450 and 500 people.

According to Kotane, following its re-establishment the Party had focused on recruiting “brave and reliable fighters” from four fields: former CPSA members, the trade union movement, national liberation organisations and the peace movement.

This drive had yielded extraordinary results. As Dadoo and Pillay put it:

“All important positions and direction in the Congress and in other organisations are occupied by members of our Party. In the African National Congress, this is particularly the case. The Secretary-General is a member of the Party and party members hold positions in the National-Executive and in the Provincial organs of this Congress.

The policy of the African National Congress is therefore heavily influenced by our Party. This general position is equally true of most of the other mass democratic organisations in the country. The Party is strong in the SA Indian Congress, the Congress of Democrats, the South African Congress of Trade Unions, the Youth Congress and so on. Indeed it is true to say that the leading positions in these mass organisations are occupied by our party members.”

Although the government had banned a number of party members from “occupying any position in the mass organisations, these comrades are nonetheless active in policy making work in these mass organisations.” The Emergency Committee appointed by the ANC NEC in preparation for the 1960 anti-pass campaign, in anticipation of government arrests, “is wholly comprised of comrades (some of whom have since been imprisoned.)”

Furthermore “all the propaganda organs” of the mass organisations and SACTU “are edited and managed by Party members. The Party managed a weekly newspaper, New Age, which has been an influential and widely read propaganda organ in the mass organisations and among the non-white peoples. The journals Fighting Talk and Liberation too have been a great success. All these propaganda organs have now been declared illegal by the Government.”

Kotane re-emphasised the extent of the Party’s influence in his report of November the following year:

“Though illegal and functioning underground, the Party – through its members who in each particular case are formed into fraction or caucus – leads the non-white trade unions and the national liberatory and progressive movement in South Africa. All major policy decisions taken and campaigns conducted by these organisations either emanate from or have the approval of the Central Committee of our Party…. We have Party members in the leadership of all the five organisations which constitute the Congress Alliance. In three of these, as well as in the Federation of South African Women, Party members are in the majority in the top leadership.”

In Dadoo and Pillay’s submission they had complained that the Party was operating under severe financial constraints following the imposition of the state of emergency. There had been declining donations from the Indian community and the Party’s funds had been stretched by the support provided to the families of detainees and by assistance to the ANC Emergency Committee. Shubin writes that the CPSU agreed to assist and $30 000 was then “allocated to the SACP in 1960 from the socalled ‘International Trade Union Fund for assistance to left workers’ organisations’.” In his paper Lodge says that it was this funding which probably enabled the SACP to purchase Lilieslief farm in Rivonia the following year. It was seemingly initially intended to be a hideout / meeting place for serving members of the SACP’s Central Committee only.[4]

The turn to the armed struggle

In his report Kotane said that the “violent measures employed by the Government and its new methods and tactics of dealing with our demonstrations and strikes” had brought into question the wisdom and political correctness of persisting with the policy of non-violence. The Central Committee of the Party and the leadership of the Congress Alliance had decided to re-assess the slogan in the light of the political situation in the country and the “prevailing mood of the people.”

Quoting an SACP document (date and authorship not provided) Kotane said that the Party had then decided that while not neglecting our public activities we should “rely more and more on our underground activities and to intensify preparations for such underground activities; and in future employ some elements of violence during our mass struggles, such as picketing and disruption of communications.”

This document further expressed doubt over whether the Party could achieve its goals through non-violence, given the hostile attitude of the whole white population (including workers): “is it reasonable to expect that any fundamental political and social changes could come about peacefully in South Africa, in other words, cant the ruling class surrender power and wealth without a violent struggle?”

The conclusion the Party reached, Kotane wrote, was that unless they got help from outside “the non-whites have no reason to believe that they can achieve their national liberation without a bitter and grim struggle and much sacrifice.”

In December 1960 the Party held its national conference in a house rented for the purpose in Emmarentia, Johannesburg. According to Bob Hepple among the 25 people in attendance were Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Piet Beyleveld, Govan Mbeki, John Nkadimeng, Ben-Turok, MP Naicker, Fred Carneson, Moses Kotane, Bram Fischer, Joe Slovo, Michael Harmel, Ben Turok, Rusty Bernstein, Dan Tloome and Raymond Mhlaba. (It would appear that Mandela was co-opted onto the Central Committee immediately after the conference.)

In the late 1962 / early 1963 memorandum the SACP said that at this meeting the Party had reviewed the experience and significance of the events during the State of Emergency earlier that year. These had revealed that the government “had passed from the stage where it was attempting to control and combat the people’s movement by parliamentary means; and had entered a period where resort would be had to open military-style rule whenever the government felt itself powerfully challenged.”

Conference had thus concluded:

“a. That the peoples’ movement could no longer hope to continue along the road of exclusively non-violent forms of political struggle, and to do so would lead to the paralysis of the movement in the face of new government tactics, and to the disillusionment and spread of defeatism among the people.

b. That therefore steps should be taken to ensure that the whole people’s movement reconsidered its tactics of exclusive reliance on non-violent methods, and that a campaign of education and explanation be carried out throughout the movement to prepare for forcible forms of struggle when those became necessary or desirable.

c. That the Party CC should take steps to initiate the training and equipping of selected personnel in new methods of struggle, and thus prepare the nucleus of an adequate apparatus to lead struggles of a more forcible and violent struggle.”

Kotane’s report says that at some point – no date is given, but probably shortly after this conference decision – a sub-committee of the Central Committee was then charged with the task of:
“- acquiring few pieces of small arms with which to train personnel;
- finding a place where such training could be carried out; and
- training people in the making and use of ‘home-made’ explosives.”

Kotane says that at this early stage the Communist Party of China had offered military training to cadres selected by the SACP, and this offer had now been taken up. “We have decided to send five or six comrades for training in China, one is already there, two I left in Dar-es-Salaam and two or three were still in South Africa.” (The cadres who ended up being sent to China were Andrew Mlangeni, Raymond Mhlaba, Joe Gqabi, Wilton Mkwayi, Steven Naidoo and Patrick Abel Mthembu).

In December 1960 – the same month that the SACP had decided to turn away from violence and persuade the “people’s movement” to do the same – a group of black African leaders had met at a meeting in Orlando, Johannesburg, and decided upon holding an ‘All-In African Conference’ which would call for a national consultative conference of all the races. Anthony Sampson (1999) says that Mandela and Sisulu then went around the country making preparations for the conference, which was eventually held in Pietermaritzburg in March 1961, and which was addressed by Mandela (his banning order having expired shortly before.) Mandela had even approached Harry Oppenheimer in an (unsuccessful) effort to raise funds the conference from Anglo American.

Sampson describes this campaign as an “attempt at peaceful organisation with other parties” but Stephen Ellis (2012) notes that a close analysis of this campaign “concludes that this initiative was actually intended to provide opponents of armed struggle with a paper trail that would justify their change of policy.” Kotane’s report provides support for the latter interpretation. It states that “The African leaders’ conference held on the 16th December, 1960, which called the Pieter Maritzburg conference was one of the efforts at combining the illegal and the legal work. The conference was suggested by our Party and, the resolution adopted unanimously by that Conference was drafted by our Central Committee.”

The memorandum says that the correctness of the Party’s December 1960 decision was proved by the government’s aggressive response to the April 1961 strike against the proclamation of a Republic.

“Despite the clearly peaceable intentions of the campaign and the repeated attempts made by the leaders of it to seek negotiation and discussion with the government, the government resorted openly to illegal and military-style methods to smash the campaign.”

In these conditions, the memorandum states, the “old methods of non-violent struggle and non-violent action proved themselves to be ineffective and were seen by the masses to be incapable of meeting their needs. Government resort to open force remained unanswered and unrestrained by the people’s movement; terror and confusion spread amongst the people; and the strike call, though supported by thousands of the most advanced of the urban workers, failed to achieve the nation-wide support which – in a different situation – would undoubtedly have followed. It was in the light of this graphic experience that the Party and the ANC pressed ahead with preparations to prepare their supporters and members of new methods of struggle.”

The formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe

The 1962/63 memorandum stated that following the adoption of the SACP’s December 1960 conference resolution (and in giving effect to "b.") “educational and propaganda work undertaken by our cadres in many fields has brought almost all politically active elements in the peoples’ movement to a single point of view – namely, that the former exclusive concentration on non-violent methods only no longer services the requirements of the movement, and that various forms of violent political struggle are necessary and desirable as a complement to the normal forms of political activity which are still being undertaken.”

The lead role in persuading first the ANC and then the other Congresses to abandon the principle of non-violence was taken by Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. In his 1976 prison manuscript Mandela writes that in June 1961 “the Working Committee of the ANC felt that resort to violence was inevitable and put the whole matter on the agenda of its National Executive which met in Durban that same month.” Despite “sharp differences” on the matter the NEC eventually “unanimously endorsed” the decision. This was then taken to a joint meeting of the Congresses the next evening which “lasted the whole night and in spite of disagreements we were able to reach a unanimous decision in the end.”

He was then asked by the ANC to “take the initiative in the formation of the organisation that would wage acts of violence and in due course units were formed in various centres. In the meantime the Communist Party had formed its own units and in October the same year they cut telephone and electricity cables in Johannesburg and on the Witwatersrand. Later when MK was formed the CP dissolved its units and the members joined MK. I was chairman of the National High Command of the Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) and on the 16th December 1961 MK announced its existence amidst a spate of bomb explosions in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban.”

The memorandum states that in 1961 the decision was taken by both the SACP and ANC “independently to set up a separate organisation as the beginning of a people’s fighting force, whose activities would be under the general direction and control of the established leading organisations of the people, but whose membership and apparatus would be entirely separated from those organisations.”

Among the considerations influencing this decision was that the SACP was not “and under present conditions does not in the immediate future expect to be of a mass character. Any exclusively Party fighting forces, therefore, could not possible have the mass popular character which a peoples force of national liberation should rightly have.”

The Party and the ANC had thus jointly assumed full responsibility for the formation of “a separate fighting organisation of a mass character” and that the “desirability of such a force being brought into being should be accepted by the legal partners to the United Front even though they themselves would not share in its control. Both the Party and the ANC, separately, therefore took decisions necessary to bring about such a state of affairs. By their two decisions, Umkonto We Sizwe (UWS) was established as a separate, fighting force of the peoples’ national liberation movement.”

The memorandum states however that SACP members had dominated the leadership of MK following its inception:

“The national leadership of UWS was composed of an equal number of men nominated by each of the two founding organisations. By virtue of the close fraternal links that exist between these organisations, and also by virtue of the positions and influence and leadership which individual Party members have won for themselves in the ANC, the national leadership thus constituted consisted of five members of the Party, together with one completely reliable and trustworthy non-party man who we regard as a close Party supporter on the verge of Party membership.”

According to Howard Barrell’s 1993 dissertation the initial high command was made up of five members: Nelson Mandela (commander in chief), Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba and Joe Slovo. In an article in Dawn magazine in 1986 commemorating the 25th anniversary of the formation of MK Slovo also put Andrew Mlangeni on the initial High Command (though he was one of the SACP cadres sent to China for training in late 1961).

All six individuals were senior SACP members at the time, and the first five had attended the December 1960 SACP conference where the decision to turn to violence had been taken. Mlangeni had been nominated by the Party’s Johannesburg District Committee to attend as well, according to Hepple, but had been blocked by the Central Committee “because of what a commission appointed by the JDC later found to be wholly unfounded suspicions that he was a police informer (he was one of the Rivonia trialists in 1963).” Ellis and Lodge both suggest that the “sixth man” referred to in the memorandum was probably Joe Modise who had been co-opted onto the High Command by this time (after Mandela’s arrest) and who never ended up joining the Party.

The control exerted by SACP members over the top leadership of MK extended down through the organisation. “This national leadership”, the memorandum stated, “has, in turn, nominated regional command groups in several main regions, again on the same basis of full agreement between the two founding organisations. In all cases, the effective control is in the hands of members of the Party.

Regional commands have recruited selected personnel from the ranks of the Party, the ANC and other tried political activists who have the special characters and abilities necessary for this specialised work. They have been formed into small, disciplined and highly secret groups under the direct control of regional commands, and are subject to a strict code of military discipline.” (My emphasis)

The Party seems to have kept a close eye on recruitment. Although members of MK were prohibited from disclosing their membership to any other person, “since recruiting is carried out only by decision of regional commands, Party District Committees are however aware of the facts as to which party members are to be approached to join UWS and are able to instruct them whether or not it is in the Party interests for them to do so.”

According to the memorandum the low level operations by MK had already transformed the political climate of the country. As it put it:

“Units of UWS have carried out a number of small scale operations, all of a sabotage nature, and with a gradually growing measure of success. These operations are becoming more numerous and more successful as the members acquire the skills and techniques which, generally speaking, were not available to them at the start. These operations have had a profound effect upon the political climate of the country. They have dissipated much of the gloom, despondency and defeatism which developed amongst the people after the crushing of the May 1961 Strike.”

On the influence exerted by the SACP over MK the memorandum was unequivocal:

“The overall strategy and direction of policy of UWS remains at all times in the hands of the leadership of the Party. The national command of UWS, consisting in the main of members of the Party, acts only in terms of the overall political policy, main lines of strategy and general direction of the Party leadership.”

The policy lines, under which MK operated, were contained in a resolution adopted at the Party’s national conference held in October 1962 (the same conference at which the Party’s programme the

Road to South African Freedom had been adopted). This stated:

a. In the light of the unyielding determination of the ruling minority to make no concessions to the national movement and to use the utmost state force to suppress the national aspirations of the majority, Conference believes that the national democratic struggle is likely to be driven to increasing reliance on violent struggle, leading towards a mass insurrection of the people against the ruling class. In this situation, the national democratic movement must prepare an army of freedom fighters dedicated to the completion of the national democratic revolution.

b. Places on record its belief that at the present time, military and paramilitary forms of struggle do not constitute the main formers of struggle, but are still subsidiary and secondary to the traditional forms…

c. Recognises the fact that the nature of the revolutionary struggle on which we are engaged is such that aims will best be achieved by the building of a firm united front of all groups and classes whose interests lie in the ending of white domination. And that therefore any military or paramilitary activities which are conducted as part of the political struggle must at all times be conducted in such a manner as to preserve the united front.

“From this resolution”, the memorandum stated, “it will be clear that the general aim of the Party in this field of work is to develop a full-time peoples military force operating on guerrilla lines throughout the country, while at the same time developing and intensifying auxiliary activity of a sabotage character. UWS has already arranged the training in friendly territory abroad of a number of selected personnel from this country for both these purposes, and is embarked on a plan to expand their numbers considerably.”

For the moment however, the memorandum noted, sabotage remained the main form of activity which MK was capable of conducting. “Its targets have, thus far, been installations of the government itself and in particular its repressive organs, thus clearly establishing in the people’s minds the political orientation of UWS.”

The plan was however to soon target businesses and industrial concerns as well: “These operations are also to be extended against government-sponsored industrial establishments, and also against such foreign imperialist industrial establishments and local capitalist enterprises as are clearly important supporting props of the government itself and of the system of white supremacy generally.”

Although the memorandum suggested that the prospect of a non-violent transition had not disappeared completely – especially if foreign capitalist support for the regime collapsed – the government had committed itself to an all-out military campaign to beat back the opposition. “As time goes on, the prospects of peaceful transition in South Africa recede, and the prospects of a violent outcome become ever more likely. It is in the light of this developing situation that we are now anxious to make speedy improvements in our own preparations, and effect rapid improvements in the activities and scale of UWS.”

The SACP’s request for help from the Soviets appears to have received a sympathetic hearing.

Following their meeting in Moscow Vella Pillay and Arthur Goldreich met officials of the Czechoslovakian communist party in London in February 1963. According to Ellis’ paper (2015), which cites a 2007 Czech academic article, they submitted a request for “three tons of plastic explosives, 10,000 detonators, 500 machine guns, 300 pistols, 2,000 automatic rifles and military training for MK recruits”.

The still evolving plans for the launching of guerilla warfare across the country were however thrown into disarray with the police raids on Liliesleaf farm and the capture of many of the conspirators in July 1963.


It is clear that the view of the relationship between the African National Congress and South African Communist Party in the early 1960s constructed by the defence team in the Rivonia trial, and propagated by the liberation movement’s Western supporters subsequently, is no longer tenable.

As argued in a recent article Mandela’s Statement from the Dock was an extraordinary feat of political misdirection. For decades it has diverted the attention of Western academics, journalists and authors away from the SACP’s hugely influential October 1962 programme The Road to South African Freedom to which all the conspirators, as well as their lead counsel, had actually been committed.

On the turn to the armed struggle too, it is clear from the above SACP documents that, contrary to Mandela’s denials, the Party exercised an absolutely dominant initial role. Very little of what Mandela said about this period – either in his 1964 Statement or 1993 autobiography - should be taken as fact until it has been independently corroborated.

As Ellis drily notes: “Mandela’s insistence that he was not only the first chairman of Umkhonto we Sizwe’s national command but also the organisation’s real founder, and that the SACP played only a minor role, has to be reconciled with the fact that the armed force that came to be known as [MK] was originally conceived by a resolution of the Communist Party at its National Conference and that Party chieftains were adamant that they controlled it.”

The debunking of all the old pretences and denials probably comes as something of a relief to all strands of political opinion in South Africa. Afrikaner nationalist and liberal concerns over the extent of communist penetration of the ANC were, in hindsight, certainly not hallucinogenic.

Equally, the SACP can now finally claim full credit within the liberation movement for its role in launching the armed struggle, and shaping the ANC’s revolutionary nationalist ideology, without having to continually throw bones of disinformation to the movement’s (non-communist) supporters in the West. Indeed, it has been the openness of old comrades – in interviews, memoirs, and in turning over documents to the archives – which has been key in clearing up the fog of misinformation that had settled over our understanding of the ANC and SACP in the early 1960s.

If anyone is left looking gullible and ridiculous by these revelations it is the ANC’s Western liberal supporters and apologists.


Tom Lodge, “Secret Party: South African Communists between 1950 and 1960”, South African Historical Journal Vol. 67 , Iss. 4, 2015
Stephen Ellis, “Nelson Mandela, the South African Communist Party and the origins of Umkhonto we Sizwe”, Cold War History Vol. 16 , Iss. 1,2016
Vladimir Shubin, “ANC: A view from Moscow” (Second Revised Edition), (Jacan: Johannesburg, 2008)
Stephen Ellis External Mission: The ANC in Exile, 1960–1990, (Jonathan Ball: Johannesburg, 2012)
Irina Filatova and Apollon Davidson, The Hidden Thread: Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era (Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball, 2013)
Bob Hepple, Young Man with a Red Tie: A Memoir of Mandela and the Failed Revolution, 1960–1963 (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2013)
Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (London: Abacus, 1995
Anthony Sampson, Mandela: The Authorised Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)
[1] Tom Lodge, “Secret Party: South African Communists between 1950 and 1960”, South African Historical Journal Vol. 67 , Iss. 4, 2015. Lodge notes in his conclusion: “To an extent Karis’ observations were guided by the limitations of reliable information available at the time, but they also reflected the predispositions of liberal sympathisers of the ANC who maintained that the ‘independently minded African patriots’ who led the ANC were more than capable of prevailing in any collaboration they might undertake with communists.”
[2] Thomas G. Karis, “South African Liberation: The Communist Factor”, Foreign Policy magazine Volume 65 • Number 2 1986
[3] See Stephen Ellis External Mission: The ANC in Exile, 1960–1990, (Jonathan Ball: Johannesburg, 2012) and Irina Filatova and Apollon Davidson, The Hidden Thread: Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era (Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball, 2013)
[4] Hepple says that only serving members of the SACP Central Committee were meant to know of this hideout. He was told by Joe Slovo, who took him there in 1961 despite this proscription (he was not a member of the CC at the time), “that the Party had got a substantial sum of money from abroad (he was not specific) and had to pay R24,000 for the house and farm. The Party had also bought a ship and a van.”
Swaziland Communist Leader Slams Mswati’s Ban on Non-Christian Religious Teaching in Schools 
Friday, 27 January 2017 16:18

The Communist Party of Swaziland has condemned the effort of the Mswati regime to ban all religious teaching in Swazi schools except Christianity.

“This is a cack-handed attempt to clamp down on the Muslim community, evidently to suck up to the ‘war of terror’ posturing of the US and its imperialist allies,” said CPS General Secretary Kenneth Kunene.

“Now that President Trump is re-ramping up the most brutal and idiotic aspects of US anti-terrorism policy, Mswati is seeking kudos from Trump by taking similarly counter-productive and witless steps. He probably thinks he’ll get an invitation to Trump Tower and the White House.”

But Kunene warned that racist and discriminatory moves against the Swaziland’s Muslims will only backfire, generating yet more disaffection with the Mswati regime.

“Communists and other progressive forces must reach out to those in the Muslim community to make clear that they are not alone and to include them in the pro-democracy fold.”

Kunene said that CPS education policy for a post-Mswati democratic Swaziland is to develop secular education in public schools. But this does not mean that discrimination against non-Christian religions should be tolerated.

“We believe that the history of religion and religious ideas should eventually replace religious instruction in public schools. And in this too there would be no discrimination bias hardwired into how the subject is presented. Until then, and while we have the current system, it should be as open as possible to all religious persuasions.”

Kunene pointed out that the Mswati regime also binds Christianity to his own notions of traditional culture to intimidate Swazis and maintain his own domination of the country by asserting himself as a quasi-divine entity.

Swazi Communists: Solidarity with SANU students facing funding halt

31 January 2017

The Communist Party of Swaziland calls for full solidarity with students at Southern African Nazarene University (SANU), who are on strike over unpaid academic allowances.

The SANU is a state health training institution operating under the Nazareth health institutions in Swaziland, and has campuses at Steki Good Shepherd and Manzini Nazarene Hospitals.

The students are protesting at the sudden stop to their allowances, which has disrupted the payment of fees and access to academic books, accommodation, food, textbooks andother essentials.

The students have been on strike since 27 January. The university management has responded by calling in the police to try to break up the strike.

The presence of the police on campus is putting the lives of the students at risk.

Mswati’s police are increasingly deployed to clamp down on peaceful protests linked to the failures of the dictatorship to provide necessary services to the people.

The CPS calls on the administration of the institution to get the police off campus and to engage with the students to address their grievances without delay.

We call on student organisations and other progressive formations in Swaziland and outside the country to work in solidarity with the Swazi students and the Swaziland National Union of Students.

What limited rights there are in Swaziland concerning access to learning must be defended tooth and nail in the face of constant efforts by the regime to avoid its meager public spending commitments.

Kenneth Kunene
General Secretary

For details contact
Njabulo Dlamini
National Organiser
+268 7603 9844
Statement From the Communist Party of Swaziland on the Death of Comrade Fidel Castro
Monday, 28 November 2016 10:45

The Communist Party of Swaziland extends its heartfelt condolences to the people of Cuba on the occasion of the death of Comrade Fidel Castro. His passing is a loss to progressive and revolutionary forces throughout the world, as indeed his life was their inspiration and stimulus to rid the world of class inequality and to muster the fruits of human ability and potential for the benefit of humanity.

Comrade Fidel’s life and example touch on many aspects of contemporary revolutionary struggle, in particular the area of practical solidarity, of which Comrade Fidel was a innovative proponent, and in which Cuba has excelled more than any other country in history.

The CPS particularly recalls Comrade Fidel’s commitment to the liberation of African countries from colonialism, racism and the tyranny of apartheid, and the historic and heroic actions by Cuban internationalists to defend the integrity of Angola against invasion by the racist Pretoria regime in November 1975.

Cuba’s steadfast support for the liberation of South Africa from apartheid and strong ties to the liberation movement led by the African National Congress were immensely important also to the discourse and practical action of liberation that has inspired progressive forces, and in particular communists, in Swaziland.

While we mourn the passing of Comrade Fidel, we also continue to be fired by his shining commitment to the cause of the liberation of all humanity from capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal, race-based and class oppression (intertwined though these forms of oppression are). He will forever be our inspiration in our fight against dictatorship and exploitation in Swaziland. He, alongside the example of Comrade Che Guevara, remains our light and our path.

Below we present an indispensible overview that Comrade Fidel gave on May Day 2003 of the achievements of socialist Cuba. These achievements remain the guiding principle of what a socialist society should seek to achieve. They should form the goals and measure of the philosophy and practical action of communists in our country, Swaziland, and of communists in all countries.

Hambakahle Comrade Fidel!

May your example guide our work for liberation!

The struggle continues – victory is certain!

Extract from Comrade Fidel’s May Day 2003 speech:

What is Cuba’s sin? What honest person has any reason to attack her?

With their own blood and the weapons seized from the enemy, the Cuban people overthrew a cruel tyranny with 80,000 men under arms, imposed by the U.S. government.

Cuba was the first territory free from imperialist domination in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the only country in the hemisphere, throughout post-colonial history, where the torturers, murderers and war criminals that took the lives of tens of thousands of people were exemplarily punished.

All of the country’s land was recovered and turned over to the peasants and agricultural workers. The natural resources, industries and basic services were placed in the hands of their only true owner: the Cuban nation.

In less than 72 hours, fighting ceaselessly, day and night, Cuba crushed the Bay of Pigs mercenary invasion organized by a U.S. administration, thereby preventing a direct military intervention by this country and a war of incalculable consequences. The Revolution already had the Rebel Army, over 400,000 weapons and hundreds of thousands of militia members.

In 1962, Cuba confronted with honor, and without a single concession, the risk of being attacked with dozens of nuclear weapons.

It defeated the dirty war that spread throughout the entire country, at a cost in human lives even greater than that of the war of liberation.

It stoically endured thousands of acts of sabotage and terrorist attacks organized by the U.S. government.

It thwarted hundreds of assassination plots against the leaders of the Revolution.

While under a rigorous blockade and economic warfare that have lasted for almost half a century, Cuba was able to eradicate in just one year the illiteracy that has still not been overcome in the course of more than four decades by the rest of the countries of Latin America, or the United States itself.

It has brought free education to 100% of the country’s children.

It has the highest school retention rate –over 99% between kindergarten and ninth grade– of all of the nations in the hemisphere.

Its elementary school students rank first worldwide in the knowledge of their mother language and mathematics.

The country also ranks first worldwide with the highest number of teachers per capita and the lowest number of students per classroom.

All children with physical or mental challenges are enrolled in special schools.

Computer education and the use of audiovisual methods now extend to all of the country’s children, adolescents and youth, in both the cities and the countryside.

For the first time in the world, all young people between the ages of 17 and 30, who were previously neither in school nor employed, have been given the opportunity to resume their studies while receiving an allowance.

All citizens have the possibility of undertaking studies that will take them from kindergarten to a doctoral degree without spending a penny.

Today, the country has 30 university graduates, intellectuals and professional artists for every one there was before the Revolution.

The average Cuban citizen today has at the very least a ninth-grade level of education.

Not even functional illiteracy exists in Cuba.

There are schools for the training of artists and art instructors throughout all of the country’s provinces, where over 20,000 young people are currently studying and developing their talent and vocation. Tens of thousands more are doing the same at vocational schools, and many of these then go on to undertake professional studies.

University campuses are progressively spreading to all of the country’s municipalities. Never in any other part of the world has such a colossal educational and cultural revolution taken place as this that will turn Cuba, by far, into the country with the highest degree of knowledge and culture in the world, faithful to Martí’s profound conviction that "no freedom is possible without culture."

Infant mortality has been reduced from 60 per 1000 live births to a rate that fluctuates between 6 and 6.5, which is the lowest in the hemisphere, from the United States to Patagonia.

Life expectancy has increased by 15 years.

Infectious and contagious diseases like polio, malaria, neonatal tetanus, diphtheria, measles, rubella, mumps, whooping cough and dengue have been eradicated; others like tetanus, meningococcal meningitis, hepatitis B, leprosy, hemophilus meningitis and tuberculosis are fully controlled.

Today, in our country, people die of the same causes as in the most highly developed countries: cardiovascular diseases, cancer, accidents, and others, but with a much lower incidence.

A profound revolution is underway to bring medical services closer to the population, in order to facilitate access to health care centers, save lives and alleviate suffering.

In-depth research is being carried out to break the chain, mitigate or reduce to a minimum the problems that result from genetic, prenatal or childbirth-related causes.

Cuba is today the country with the highest number of doctors per capita in the world, with almost twice as many as those that follow closer.

Our scientific centers are working relentlessly to find preventive or therapeutic solutions for the most serious diseases.

Cubans will have the best healthcare system in the world, and will continue to receive all services absolutely free of charge.

Social security covers 100% of the country’s citizens.

In Cuba, 85% of the people own their homes and they pay no property taxes on them whatsoever. The remaining 15% pay a wholly symbolic rent, which is only 10% of their salary.

Illegal drug use involves a negligible percentage of the population, and is being resolutely combated.

Lottery and other forms of gambling have been banned since the first years of the Revolution to ensure that no one pins their hopes of progress on luck.

There is no commercial advertising on Cuban television and radio or in our printed publications. Instead, these feature public service announcements concerning health, education, culture, physical education, sports, recreation, environmental protection, and the fight against drugs, accidents and other social problems. Our media educate, they do not poison or alienate. They do not worship or exalt the values of decadent consumer societies.

Discrimination against women was eradicated, and today women make up 64% of the country’s technical and scientific workforce.

From the earliest months of the Revolution, not a single one of the forms of racial discrimination copied from the south of the United States was left intact. In recent years, the Revolution has been particularly striving to eliminate any lingering traces of the poverty and lack of access to education that afflicted the descendants of those who were enslaved for centuries, creating objective differences that tended to be perpetuated. Soon, not even a shadow of the consequences of that terrible injustice will remain.

There is no cult of personality around any living revolutionary, in the form of statues, official photographs, or the names of streets or institutions. The leaders of this country are human beings, not gods.

In our country there are no paramilitary forces or death squads, nor has violence ever been used against the people. There are no executions without due process and no torture. The people have always massively supported the activities of the Revolution. This rally today is proof of that.

Light years separate our society from what has prevailed until today in the rest of the world. We cultivate brotherhood and solidarity among individuals and peoples both in the country and abroad.

The new generations and the entire people are being educated about the need to protect the environment. The media are used to build environmental awareness.

Our country steadfastly defends its cultural identity, assimilating the best of other cultures while resolutely combating everything that distorts, alienates and degrades.

The development of wholesome, non-professional sports has raised our people to the highest ranks worldwide in medals and honors.

Scientific research, at the service of our people and all humanity, has increased several-hundredfold. As a result of these efforts, important medications are saving lives in Cuba and other countries.

Cuba has never undertaken research or development of a single biological weapon, because this would be in total contradiction with the principles and philosophy underlying the education of our scientific personnel, past and present.

In no other people has the spirit of international solidarity become so deeply rooted.

Our country supported the Algerian patriots in their struggle against French colonialism, at the cost of damaging political and economic relations with such an important European country as France.

We sent weapons and troops to defend Algeria from Moroccan expansionism, when the king of this country sought to take control of the iron mines of GaraDjebilet, near the city of Tindouf, in southwest Algeria.

At the request of the Arab nation of Syria, a full tank brigade stood guard between 1973 and 1975 alongside the Golan Heights, when this territory was unjustly seized from that country.

The leader of the Republic of Congo when it first achieved independence, Patrice Lumumba, who was harassed from abroad, received our political support. When he was assassinated by the colonial powers in January of 1961, we lent assistance to his followers.

Four years later, in 1965, Cuban blood was shed in the western region of Lake Tanganyika, where Che Guevara and more than 100 Cuban instructors supported the Congolese rebels who were fighting against white mercenaries in the service of the man supported by the West, that is, Mobutu whose 40 billion dollars, the same that he stole, nobody knows what European banks they are kept in, or in whose power.

The blood of Cuban instructors was shed while training and supporting the combatants of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, who fought under the command of Amilcar Cabral for the liberation of these former Portuguese colonies.

The same was true during the ten years that Cuba supported AgostinhoNeto’s MPLA in the struggle for the independence of Angola. After independence was achieved, and over the course of 15 years, hundreds of thousands of Cuban volunteers participated in defending Angola from the attacks of racist South African troops that in complicity with the United States, and using dirty war tactics, planted millions of mines, wiped out entire villages, and murdered more than half a million Angolan men, women and children.

In CuitoCuanavale and on the Namibian border, to the southwest of Angola, Angolan and Namibian forces together with 40,000 Cuban troops dealt the final blow to the South African troops. This resulted in the immediate liberation of Namibia and speeded up the end of apartheid by perhaps 20 to 25 years. At the time, the South Africans had seven nuclear warheads that Israel had supplied to them or helped them to produce, with the full knowledge and complicity of the U.S. government.

Throughout the course of almost 15 years, Cuba had a place of honor in its solidarity with the heroic people of Viet Nam, caught up in a barbaric and brutal war with the United States. That war killed four million Vietnamese, in addition to all those left wounded and mutilated, not to mention the fact that the country was inundated with chemical compounds that continue to cause incalculable damage. The pretext: Viet Nam, a poor and underdeveloped country located 20,000 kilometers away, constituted a threat to the national security of the United States.

Cuban blood was shed together with that of citizens of numerous Latin American countries, and together with the Cuban and Latin American blood of Che Guevara, murdered on instructions from U.S. agents in Bolivia, when he was wounded and being held prisoner after his weapon had been rendered useless by a shot received in battle.

The blood of Cuban construction workers, that were nearing completion of an international airport vital for the economy of a tiny island fully dependent on tourism, was shed fighting in defense of Grenada, invaded by the United States under cynical pretexts.

Cuban blood was shed in Nicaragua, when instructors from our Armed Forces were training the brave Nicaraguan soldiers confronting the dirty war organized and armed by the United States against the Sandinista revolution.

And there are even more examples.

Over 2000 heroic Cuban internationalist combatants gave their lives fulfilling the sacred duty of supporting the liberation struggles for the independence of other sister nations. However, there is not one single Cuban property in any of those countries. No other country in our era has exhibited such sincere and selfless solidarity.

Cuba has always preached by example. It has never given in. It has never sold out the cause of another people. It has never made concessions. It has never betrayed its principles. There must be some reason why, just 48 hours ago, it was reelected by acclamation in the United Nations Economic and Social Council to another three years in the Commission on Human Rights, of which it has now been a member for 15 straight years.

More than half a million Cubans have carried out internationalist missions as combatants, as teachers, as technicians or as doctors and health care workers. Tens of thousands of the latter have provided their services and saved millions of lives over the course of more than 40 years. There are currently 3000 specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine and other healthcare personnel working in the most isolated regions of 18 Third World countries. Through preventive and therapeutic methods they save hundreds of thousands of lives every year, and maintain or restore the health of millions of people, without charging a penny for their services.

Without the Cuban doctors offered to the United Nations in the event that the necessary funds are obtained –without which entire nations and even whole regions of sub-Saharan Africa face the risk of perishing– the crucial programs urgently needed to fight AIDS would be impossible to carry out.

The developed capitalist world has created abundant financial capital, but it has not in any way created the human capital that the Third World desperately needs.

Cuba has developed techniques to teach reading and writing by radio, with accompanying texts now available in five languages –Haitian Creole, Portuguese, French, English and Spanish– that are already being used in numerous countries. It is nearing completion of a similar program in Spanish, of exceptionally high quality, to teach literacy by television. These are programs that were developed in Cuba and are genuinely Cuban. We are not interested in patents and exclusive copyrights. We are willing to offer them to all of the countries of the Third World, where most of the world’s illiterates are concentrated, without charging a penny. In five years, the 800 million illiterate people in the world could be reduced by 80%, at a minimal cost.

After the demise of the USSR and the socialist bloc, nobody would have bet a dime on the survival of the Cuban Revolution. The United States tightened the blockade. The Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts were adopted, both extraterritorial in nature. We abruptly lost our main markets and supplies sources. The population’s average calorie and protein consumption was reduced by almost half. But our country withstood the pressures and even advanced considerably in the social field.

Today, it has largely recovered with regard to nutritional requirements and is rapidly progressing in other fields. Even in these conditions, the work undertaken and the consciousness built throughout the years succeeded in working miracles. Why have we endured? Because the Revolution has always had, as it still does and always will to an ever-greater degree, the support of the people, an intelligent people, increasingly united, educated and combative.

Issued by the Communist Party of Swaziland
Kenneth Kunene
General Secretary
26 November 2016
Speech: Memorial Service of Fidel Castro Speech by Republic of Namibia President Hage Geingob
What is the price of freedom? What is the cost of liberating a nation? How much do you pay a country which fought for you when others were allies to your enemy?

According to Fidel, helping with the liberation of the oppressed should never be for economic gain, but only to gain in conscience. That is why we are here. We are here in good conscience to bid farewell to a man whose legacy will never die and to honour a country whose debt we can never repay.

Our Founding Father and leader of the Namibian revolution, comrade Sam Nujoma as well as our second President, Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba have both accompanied me to pay Namibia's respect to Cuba. We included the Secretary General of the SWAPO Party, two decorated military officers of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia who became generals in the independent Namibian Defence Force as well as a survivor of the Cassinga massacre to illustrate the enduring legacy of Fidel Castro in Namibia. As part of our collective homage, Namibia has declared three days of national mourning in honour of Fidel Castro.

Northern Namibia and Southern Angola bore the brunt of the Namibian liberation war against apartheid South Africa. It was at a SWAPO camp in Cassinga, Southern Angola where racist South African military forces launched a brutal attack on defenseless Namibian women and children in exile. The first responders to this scene of brutality and death were the gallant Cuban forces who came to our rescue. It was in our defence in which Cuban soldiers lost their lives and limbs. After the attack, Cuba was the first country to provide education facilities at the Island of Youth for three thousand (3 000) surviving children of the Cassinga massacre.

The high stakes battle of Cuito Cuanavale is yet another example of Fidel's unflinching belief in the liberation of the oppressed. Under his command, Cuba risked its own national security in order to repel apartheid South Africa. Defeat at Cuito Cuanavale would have been defeat for all the oppressed people of Southern Africa and victory to racist South Africa and the imperialism they represented.

Fidel described how "thousands of courageous and tireless combatants from Namibia" joined Angolan and Cuban troops in this battle of ideology. Cuito Cuanavele was a watershed moment for Southern Africa in general but particularly for Namibia as it led to the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 435. This culminated in Namibian Independence in 1990. The blood of Cuban fighters indeed waters our freedom.

True to his revolutionary heart, Castro had no interest other than the liberation of our people. He had no interest in the vast natural resources of a free Namibia and his view was that Cubans did not come to collect gold or diamonds, all they wanted was to return the remains of their fallen comrades. While have forgiven our enemies, we will never forget our friends. The Cuban people are our friends. Fidel is our friend. Now and forever. We are reminded of Fidel in the countless Namibian children who are named either Fidel or are named Castro.

We are reminded of Fidel by the 3000 Namibian children from Cassinga who grew up in Cuba, speak fluent Spanish and now occupy positions throughout the public and private sector.

We are reminded of Fidel by the Cuban doctors, nurses and pharmacists who continue to work in Namibian hospitals and clinics.

We still have a lot to learn from a man who lived, and died, on his own terms. In this moment, when global politics are no longer clear cut, when alliances are falling apart when people are losing faith, it is in this moment that we need the razor sharp clarity of mind and purpose which characterized the life of Fidel Castro. Hasta la Victoria siempre!

Cuba' consistent support for African liberation was a heritage bequeathed to them by Jose Marti, hero of the Cuban revolution, who said, "A true man does not seek the path where advantage lies, but rather, the path where duty lies." The legacy of Fidel is an eternally burning flame that will continue to inspire and ignite the passion of progressive forces of the world as we fight for economic justice and the realization of an equitable world order.

May his revolutionary spirit consume all of us so we may continue to resist neo colonialism and remain united in. Hasta la victoria siempre! To our brother Raul, the Castro family and our Cuban family, our struggle was your struggle, your pain is our pain.

Fidel is no more but his spirit will live on forever. Venceremos! 
Statement by Dr Hage G. Geingob, President of the SWAPO Party on the Occasion of the 7th Congress of the SPWC
"Comrades, there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to a society where half the people are held in silence." These are the moving words of Thomas Sankara.

During this week, where we are mourning one of human history's most iconic revolutionaries, the late Comandante En Jefe Fidel Castro, it is befitting that as cadres of the SWAPO Party, we should honour the memory of this giant, by rekindling the flames of our revolutionary spirit with the full knowledge that our struggle is only halfway complete.

As we fight the economic phase of the struggle, we speak of inclusivity and that nobody should feel left out. We certainly can't talk of economic emancipation if we leave out half of our population. Women suffered triple oppression. Inside their homes they suffered the oppression of patriarchy. Outside their homes they suffered the oppression of apartheid simply because they were black. At the workplace they suffered the oppression of gender inequality simply because they were female.

We fought side by side to defeat apartheid. We fought side by side to amend and implement laws which recognize the equality of women. We now need to fight side by side to defeat the patriarchy that continues to oppress women in the home, in the workplace and society at large.

The women in SWAPO were at the forefront of the implementation of the 50/50 principle. They say a chicken that knows it will be eaten at Christmas will never vote for Christmas. In SWAPO, men are not chicken. We voted for 50/50 as we know that the empowerment of women is not the disempowerment of men. Those men who are under this mistaken impression are chicken!

Thanks to SWAPO, we have increased Namibia's representation of women in politics to No. 2 in Africa. Cabinet has women in powerful positions due to skill and not tokenism. They are there because they were the best candidates, not because they are female candidates. As the Head of State, I can corroborate that the women in SWAPO are making us proud. I always knew this as the Director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia. I must share a secret today and admit that women were more diligent students than men! Please, what happens in Keetmanshoop stays in Keetmanshoop! Women are delivering, not just babies at home, they are delivering results wherever they are. It is not fair to allow talent to go to waste!

As you start the process of electing your leader, it is time to reflect on the role of the SPWC. A bird cannot fly without its wings. SWAPO cannot fly without its wings. The wings of SWAPO are the SPWC, the SPYL and the trade unions. The wings need to start moving so that SWAPO can fly. We do not need to wait for elections to be active, we need to work hard for elections but work harder when campaign is over in order to deliver to the people who elected us.

In a democratic party, it is normal to contest for position. In life, it is normal for one person to emerge the victor. In defeat, it is normal for factions to be sad that they lost. However, we will never move forward if we don't accept democracy and unite in order to support the victor. Let us never isolate talent merely because they exercised their democratic right to support one candidate over the other. United we stand, divided we fall! I do not wish to create the impression that only women fight each other. Men are worse! Men gossip about each other and politically destroy each other as well. All I request is that we start looking at the interest of the party over the interests of individuals.

Before we conclude, let me raise the issue of Gender Based Violence. It has become hard reading the newspapers as every day, there are new reports about women and children being killed, raped and assaulted. The physical, sexual and psychological torture that women face in private and public spaces requires urgent intervention. The police are only able to police the streets but it appears Namibians need to be policed in the home as well. The SPWC needs to be at the forefront of fighting this oppression as it is limiting women from taking their rightful place in society.

In parting, I wish you a constructive Congress. As we head into the festive season, I also wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Please be safe on our roads. Please be safe in your homes. With these words, I now have the honour to declare the 7th Congress of the SWAPO Party Women's Council, officially open.

SWAPO, United! SWAPO, Victorious! NOW, Hard Work!