By Gadi Malatsi
This year has been an eventful one for the Alliance, with some significant milestones achieved, albeit the setbacks experienced, in particular the loss of some of our key struggle and working class stalwarts mentioned below, as well as those not mentioned:
• Fezeka Loliwe, ANC MP dies on 5 March.
• Cde Sechaba “Charles” Setsubi, SACP-MK veteran, regarded as Communist to the end and Commisar par excellence dies on 12 March.
• Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela, the African National Congress stalwart, Member of Parliament and ex-wife of the late statesman, Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela dies on 2 April.
• Cde Joyce Mashamba, ANC stalwart and Limpopo MEC for Agriculture, and long-standing activist and Central Committee Member of the SACP, dies on 20 June.
• Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs dies on 22 September.
• Cde Eric “Stalin” Mtshali, the anti-apartheid icon, ANC, SACP and SACTU member, as well as leader of the military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, and recipient of the prestigious order of Mendi for Bravery and Silver dies on 12 October.
• Cde Mandla Makapula, ANC member and SACP Central Executive Committee and Eastern Cape MEC for Education dies on 8 October.
• Cde Mendi Msimang, ANC stalwart, former ANC Treasure General, former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and husband of late former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang dies on 3 December.
As Chris Hani Institute, we send our heartfelt condolences to the families of the fallen heroes, and we will endeavour to push forward the transformation agenda, in honour of their memory.
On the positive side, the Alliance has witnessed laudable milestones.
This year marked 100 years since the two anti-apartheid icons, Mama Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu, and Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first democratically-elected president of South Africa were born. The chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee of the Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu centenaries, Minister Jeff Radebe, officially launched in May, the year-long celebrations in Cape Town. During the launch the Minister outlined activities that would take place during the year to honour the memory of these two departed stalwarts.
Meanwhile in 2017, the nation successfully commemorated the centenary of late anti-apartheid icon and ANC president, Oliver Reginald Tambo.
History was made during the recent COSATU Congress, when Cde Zingiswa Losi was elected unanimously as the first woman president of the Labour Federation during its recent Congress – a move which is seen by many as addressing the gender disparities among officials in public offices, business and labour. We congratulate Cde Losi and have no doubt that she will do a sterling job.
On 23 November 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the National Minimum Wage Bill, which comes into effect in January 2019, and will benefit about 6 million workers, who it is said, earn below R3 700 per month. The ceremonial signing of the law was done at the historic Kliptown, Soweto, the very same place where the Freedom Charter was signed in 1955. The signing of the law spells victory for COSATU, since the Federation has been campaigning for it for years.
On a note of optimism, the Publications Portfolio of Chris Hani Institute has added another publication in its stable – a newsletter! I am excited to deliver to you the inaugural edition of CHI News (an Official Newsletter of Chris Hani Institute!). The newsletter articles have been published online as individual posts. In the long run, we are hoping to make the newsletter available in various formats. This inaugural edition is unique, in that it introduces the CHI, and that contributors are researchers and other staff members of the Institute. The newsletter will be published quarterly on the first day of March, June, September and December.
In this edition Dr Sithembiso Bhengu introduces the Institute by elaborating on the reasons behind its establishment (to institutionalise the memory of Chris Hani), as well as its founding principles (to participate in the production of knowledge through research and research capacity development that drive left-wing policy alternatives, and research dissemination through varied publications). Dr Samukele Hadebe, a Senior Researcher at CHI reflects on the 13th COSATU National Congress, held from 17 to 20 September 2018, in Gallagher Estate, Midrand. His piece entitled, Highlights from the 13th COSATU National Congress touches on the relevance of the theme of the Congress (Deepen the Back to Basics Campaign, Consolidate the Struggle for the NDR and Advance the Struggle for Socialism), and asserts that by crafting this theme, COSATU confirms and recommits to its foundational principles, which, according to him, “remain immutable and unadulterated by whatever vicissitudes blowing the organisation, be they political, social or economic.” Dr Hadebe also writes about the core-funded programme of CHI, namely worker education research.
The Director also writes a reflective article on COSATU’s 13th National Congress, alluding that this significant Congress took place at a time “when workers were increasingly on the retreat, grappling with what seems like the insurmountable assault by capital, with sustained jobs bloodbath, characterised by externalisation of work through labour brokering, casualisation of labour, increased job insecurity, and the threat of job replacement by the ‘4th industrial revolution.’” He asserts the imperative for unity among COSATU affiliates, in the light of fracturing in a number of affiliates, which affects cohesion within the federation. He asserts that unity of trade unions and workers in general is principal if trade unions are to carry out their mandate.
This edition also puts a spotlight on CHI research by profiling two of the Institute’s researchers, Dr Nomkhosi Xulu-Gama, and Cde Musa Malabela. The edition also carries a contribution about the SACP’s Red October Campaign.
Lastly, this edition features the COSATU National Day of Action, which took place on 27 November 2018 – the aim was to protest against the ongoing violence directed at women and children, among other issues. Many of those associated with the Federation at the head office, as well as tenants (at COSATU House and COSATU’s national office bearers) attended the peaceful picket.
I am grateful to be given an opportunity to edit this newsletter, which is the first newsletter of the Institute. Obviously, there were a few glitches here and there – but am grateful for the contribution of the following people:
• The staff of CHI, especially the director, Dr Sithembiso Bhengu for providing the vision and strategic guidance.
• SACP Communications (Cde Alex Mashilo) and COSATU Communications (Cdes Donald Ratau and Nthabiseng Makhajane for the contribution they made, in respect of the development of this newsletter).
I hope you enjoy this Inaugural edition.