Lack of ‘service delivery’ – the result of imperialist capitalist domination and control, or simply due to ‘corruption’?
More and more poor communities around South Africa are rising in protest against poor or non service delivery ,trying to take the ANC at their word over their promises made during the April 22 /2009 elections. The ANC and SACP (and the bourgeois media) are redirecting the grassroots struggles of the masses against individual councillors, claiming that it is simply a matter of confronting those who are stealing from the poor and blaming them for the government’s failure to live up to their election promises and relieve the working class and fellow poor of their plight. Attention is deliberately diverted from the real causes of the continued exploitation and suffering of the masses, namely the domination of the world by the giant monopolies and banks (imperialism).
The current policy of imperialism
While the hundreds of thousands of Haitians were dying and trapped under the ruins of an earthquake in January this year, the US imperialists, led by Obama, invaded the country and were prospecting for oil and gas while they should have been searching for survivors. The destruction of the forests of Haiti by imperialist monopolies chasing a quick profit was what turned the country into a dustbowl- all the profits from the forests were repatriated to the US monopolies, while from the scraps, the masses had to build their houses. The imperialist knew that Haiti is an area which is prone to earthquakes, yet they did not care. In the imperialist centres like Japan they take precautions against earthquakes and are able to build structures that are earthquake-resistant. The masses in the colonies and semi-colonies are dumped in flimsy structures while most profits are shipped off-shore. The huge death toll in Haiti was not due to a ‘failed state’ or corruption in the ‘service delivery’ but due to the enslavement of most of the population by imperialism and their brutal exploitation by these capitalist monopolies that need modern ‘slave labour’ in the imperialist centres. The rapid military invasion by US imperialism maintains this slave camp for their exclusive use in the region without sharing the spoils among rival imperialists like the French, German and Japanese. In June last year the Obama regime made a coup against the government of Honduras; a few days ago the people of Yemen were bombed by Obama’s troops; last year over 50 million workers were retrenched. US imperialism spends 1 trillion (1000 billion USD) on the ongoing war in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. They bomb the infrastructure and then award themselves the contracts to rebuild the region. Housing prices have increased by 400% over the past few years as a means for the major banks to rescue their falling profits. It is in their interest to maintain a mass, permanent desperation over housing to create an artificial mechanism to keep housing prices high. It follows that the housing and ‘service delivery’ departments of the various capitalist governments are there to NOT deliver on housing and service delivery- they are there to maintain the scarcity of housing and services by building as little as they can get away with, all to boost the super-profits that are part of the world capitalist system. This is the biggest ‘corruption’ that the bourgeois media and the ANC, SACP, Zanu-PF, MDC and others, keep silent on.
What is the bone of contention in these ‘service delivery’ protests?
Lack of housing , sanitation, water, jobs, schools and roads; these are basic needs that seems to be not important to the government of today to deliver to the people since 1994; this article will attempt to analyse this poor service delivery and try to expose this government and its pro capitalist tendencies that seeks not only to impoverish the working class but also to exploit them on behalf of big capital.
Entrepreneurs or agents of imperialism.
In 1996 the government accelerated the class project of 1994 (the sellout agreement by the ANC-SACP to keep capitalist relations in place) through which they pursued the idea of creating a black middle class thus introduced BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) which somehow is responsible for containing and curbing the cauldron of these protests. BEE exposed the ANC as the real capitalist party it real is , because every member wanted to be in a position of power and the aspiring bourgeoisie began to introduce funding and lobbying for party congresses from branches to national level; then once in power, they begin to scramble for government tenders, for the crumbs from the imperialist table, deliberately enforcing the agenda of lack of housing and services while big capital’s profits are placed as a priority above all other interests. Plato once said ”the guardians of society should not be allowed to acquire property or gold, if they are permitted to acquire property or gold ,they become housekeepers and businessmen and guardian of society”. What Plato really meant was that those in public office should know their place and not acquire too many crumbs, if they do, then they may become a threat (competition) with the real rulers of a society divided on class lines. When the bourgeois media cry ‘corruption’ they want to limit the local competition against the ruling gangsters and thugs, the imperialists.
When you zoom in on the political and socio economic dynamics of south African society, it is easy to realise that our communist friends (SACP) are as fond of private property as much as our capitalists are , our ‘socialists’ are as opposed to radical change as our conservatives happen to be, so in reality are all our leaders seems to be the same, hence communities are demonstrating their anger and frustration and increasingly struggles for ‘delivery’ are turning into revolts against the entire capitalist system itself. This is why the bourgeoisie and their media are so concerned at the wave of protests that are growing across the country.
Reasons for protest
Since 2005 (or even before), municipal service delivery protest has become common place in South Africa and they became more intense in 2009. In Khutsong, for example, the protest started as a protest about water and electricity but the SACP managed to derail the people struggle into a demarcation protest. What should have been a struggle for housing and water and electricity for all became a localised struggle to move from one province to the next. Currently the protests have erupted all over the country, more so in Mpumalanga and like an inferno fuelled by tempest is now burning into adjacent provinces like Gauteng and Limpopo. The Sunday independent characterised the uprising in Free State in reference specifically to protest in Phomolong as having caused by “volatile Molotov cocktail of genuine grievance and a runaway rumours of halfbaked allegation of corruption.” Even the bourgeois analysts have to admit that it is not really ‘corruption’, but lack of delivery to the masses that underpins the protest. Doreen Atkinson also observed and wrote “for a Rip van Winkel who had fallen asleep in 1988 and awoken in 2005 , it might appear as if the ‘rolling mass action of the end of apartheid period had simply continued into the dawn of democratic government in South Africa. at the heart of these protest some politicians simply dismiss reasons of this protest by saying ‘it is a direct influence of politician who positioning themselves for 2011 local election’ but this is an excuse not to adequately address the genuine service delivery deficiency syndrome affecting the poor working class.” These are all signs that the revolts are against the system, with growing similarities to the 1988 generalised uprising of the masses against the slave capitalist regime.
Botes et al’s research showed that an element common to all the protest was that residents could not get their problems addressed effectively. The arrogance of councillors and officials, although existing, was not the main factor in the protests but rather sharpened the hatred of the masses for the system. The structural inability of the system to meet the demands of the masses was the root cause of the protests and the increasing brutality if the state against protestors reflects this. On the other hand, the masses are increasingly realising that their demands will not be met by marches but through militant mass action.
The masses are increasingly seeing through all the bureaucratic measures of the state to dissipate and defuse mass anger: the toll free numbers, the so-called progressive administrative justice legislation, as well as the lack of accessibility, no mechanisms for capturing complaints and lack procedures for providing feedback to complaints, etc, all of which delay and frustrate the democratic aspirations of the masses (while the imperialists face no such obstacles).
Public participation means nothing to common since the opinion of the working class and fellow poor does not matter as long as the nec,pec,bec of the ANC and SACP has taken a decision, the working class are not included in the day to day issues of the municipalities. Responsiveness to residents queries and problems are not entertained. All are designed to fast track the interests of big capital, for a few pennies to the ANC-SACP elite, while the interests of the working class are trampled on.
The appetite for private property and self enrichment at the expense of the working class, is so great among the ANC-SACP middle class, bourgeois and aspirant bourgeois, that they break even their own rules of appointment, appointing their own cronies rather than have an open selection from available candidates. These are often triggers of mass protest, such as in Mpumalanga, as little or no consideration is given to suitability for the function but to secure somebody’s power. Even the little service delivery that may occur is severely restricted by the appetite of the ANC-SACP petti bourgeois. In other municipalities like Bushbuckridge which is largely rural and had no water meters and no billing system but residents of Shatale , Collegeview and Thulamahashe , are billed every month and are expected to pay. The capitalist divide between town and rural is being entrenched by the ANC-SACP elite.
The strengthening of pro capitalist tendencies in running the government according to the Freedom Charter has implemented the imperialist agenda of privatizing government services into the hands of big capital while the petti bourgeois picks up the crumbs from the master’s table in the form of becoming consultants and charging government a lot of money for their services .
Aloof councillors would, during the run-up to elections, go back to “their people” only when their power base becomes shaky. For the moment the masses tolerate the ANC-SACP leaders as they see no other mass alternative; the working class are not prepared to support such openly imperialist parties such as the DA. The SACP and Cosatu leaders promote the myth of a left shift at Polokwane to gain more time for the regime to control the masses on behalf of imperialism. The spurt of protests after the April 2009 election shows that the masses’ patience with the ANC is running thin.
In 1990 there was a backlog of at least 3 million housing units; today there are still over 3 million housing units backlog which shows that housing ‘delivery’ has barely kept pace with population growth over the past 20 years. This does not even take into account that the government has worsened the trend of the apartheid rulers of building poor quality matchbox houses. This growing permanent homelessness has been central clashes with the working class against the capitalists state as is the case in Nelson Mandela bay , Diepsloot , Alexandra ,Balfour and Thabanchewu . In Alexandra the masses boycotted the national election, crying ‘one house, one vote’. This was a limited slogan in that it implies that the few who did receive houses, should vote. A better slogan would have been adequate houses for all- something that capitalism today cannot give. This government indeed does not care for the poor. In other informal settlements like in kennedy road in Kwazulunatal the provincial government tried to evict the residents without providing them with proper shelter thus forcing social movement ABAHLALI BA SE MJONDOLO taking the government to court; and the court ruled in favour of the people , this was a temporary victory for the working class; within weeks the ANC sent their thugs into the area and by force drive out the Abahlali leaders, killing some of the residents and forcibly evicting many of the residents, thus still achieving the agenda of the state; residents of Brits in the northwest province were evicted by the provincial government without any alternative provided to them. The lesson drawn from the international struggles of the working class that at the current balance of class forces, the capitalists are trampling on bourgeois democratic gains of the working class and increasingly using fascist methods of extracting surplus value (profits) from the working class.
The deliberate scarcity of housing, accelerated by the ANC-SACP, has as one of the consequences, the desperate competition among the masses, over housing lists and for a chance to get adequate housing- this waiting lists are to delay the anger of the masses and to keep the masses waiting forever. The real aim of the housing department as being not a housing department but a non-housing department (now called human settlement), is starting to dawn on the masses, hence the increasing number of protests over the lists and the right to housing. The desperation is also exploited by big capital and their lackeys in government to fuel attacks by fascist gangs against our black brothers and sisters from the rest of Africa.
The ties of the ANC-SACP to big capital means that even the limited ward committees reflect the interests of big capital and thus are run by hand-picked yesmen and are only held on rare occasions. How is it possible for the interests of the working class to be reflected in such structures?
2010 Fifa world cup
The capitalist within the ANC-SACP do not care what kind of quality houses their friends build for the poor working class, most of which crack within the first year of being built and have remained incomplete; the contractors have been paid in full- this is tantamount to stealing from the poor. In addition to this, many contractors left without paying the very workers who built these houses.
The Fifa 2010 world cup which is awaited by billions of people all over the world, is set to take place in South Africa but with it comes the dominance of big capital against the interest of the working class; this is demonstrated by example specifically of the community of Matafeni near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. Firstly the community’s land was expropriated for the building of the 2010 soccer stadium (Mbombela) without properly consulting the community; then the children lost their 2 schools in order to give way for the building of the stadium; however till today the replacement schools have not yet been built and the provincial government has no clear intention or a known date when this school is going to be built. It is this incident that sparked the protest of the youth and working class parents of Matafeni protested. The masses were laid siege to by the state, several youth and parents were arrested. Today the people of Matafeni township still live in fear and under a virtual state of emergency. On the other hand Group 5, WHBO, Murray & Roberts and other construction monopolies, made billions of Rands in profits from the all the 2010 stadia. The main beneficiaries of the 2010 is finance capitall, such as JP Morgan Chase, other Wall street gangsters and some European banking capital. In essence the 2010 soccer world cup represents the accelerated attack on millions of the working class in the region, trampling on the few democratic rights won by the masses, launched directly by the ANC-SACP. Within a short space of 3 years, tens of billions of Rands were found for stadiums but the millions shivering in the shacks for decades leaves the ANC-SACP cold.
We are bombarded by bourgeois politicians who tell us that the deficient service delivery is brought about by corruption and corrupt officials, but the case of Matafeni and of all the stadia show that such corruption had no role to play. The capitalist system is inherently and viciously corrupt. The interest of big capital like the JP Morgan Chase and the Bank of New York is served by the building of the stadiums- the majority of the masses do not benefit anything. We all know that capital is in a crisis of profits so this venture will boost their takings. The ANC-SACP has betrayed the trust of the people to give priority to the interest of the capitalists before the needs of the masses. They destroyed 2 schools to build the stadium- now the working class school children face unbearable conditions in dark containers- hot in summer and chilly in winter. A part of the massive profits leaving our shores are used by imperialism to buy off the labour aristocracy in the imperialist centres; and now as they cut back even on the crumbs they give to the labour aristocracy, they fund fascist groups such as the ones who attacked our brothers and sisters in the South of Italy. Tomorrow these same fascists will have their boots over the workers of the imperialist centres themselves. This is the corruption that the bourgeoisie keep silent about.
WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE BUT A SCARCITY FOR THE WORKING CLASS
In 2009 the high court of south Gauteng ruled in favour of the people of Soweto against the City of Johannesburg on the matter that relates to pre paid water meters , the ‘learned’ judge ruled that water is a natural resource and should be shared equally by all citizens of this country ,therefore the judges ruled that Johannesburg metro infringed the right of residents of Soweto by making them pay for water before they use it and enforcing limitations of how much water they can use. On the 8th October the Constitutional Court overturned this and ruled in favour of the capitalists, hiding their complicity by saying theycannot determine how much water to allocate to each person. The Constitutional Court showed in this way that it is the final defender of the interest of big capital as the way is now open for big capital to commodify water, profiteer from it, and trample on the very democratic rights won through struggles of the masses. The real meaning of the Freedom Charter shines through in the case of water, namely that among the ‘people’ the real rulers, the ones who really govern, are the imperialists, the big capitalists – it is their interests that are carried on high- the price of such treachery by the SACP are only a few pieces of silver and a couple of golden handshakes for the black elite.
South Africa is water scarce and it is claimed can only afford to supply only a part of the population with water; that is why it supposedly imports water from Lesotho. In the case of Mpumalanga ,northern Kzn ,Limpopo,north west and some parts of the eastern cape , communities have challenged mining and monoculture industrial plantation which pose ecological and environmental challenges; thus ecological and water resource are being eroded. Anglo-American plc is embarking new operations of mining of platinum in Limpopo and north west, but the consequence of this is that environmental, economic and the daily lives of the rural poor are adversely impacted and are deliberately ignored. Anglo American, with the help of local chiefs and some section 21 companies established in order to exploit poor working class, have forcefully removed people from their homes to give way for mining operations; in addition to that, people’s ancestral graves have been dug up without consultation with the communities. Local people are promised jobs but most of them work for temporary recruitment agencies which does not pay them a living wage and imposes slave conditions of work. Local people ‘s houses have cracked due to blasting taking place next to them; therefore leaving their houses uninhabitable- a serious risk of falling on to them. In response to people opposing this atrocities, Anglo-American has imported mercenaries from DRC who beat and shoot down the communities. Some local police seems to be on the payroll of the mines since every time members of the communities are being arrested in protest against the mines, the same policemen would be involved in the arrest.
The areas of Rustenburg, Mokopane, Klerkdorp, Bugersfort, Randfontein are overwhelmed with mining toxic waste like uranium and other radio active waste that are known to cause sickness and cancers and causes mental retardation in children. The University of North West and other research entities had undertaken some research and found that in Kagiso, for example, mining toxic waste had contaminated the drinking water and this has affected even grazing land for livestock and subsistence and small commercial farming. Local municipalities have built RDP houses in areas only 500 metres away from mining dumps, which are not even secured nor having signage to make people aware of the dangers involved, and children usually swim in this dump; some had drowned as a result and no one is prepared to take responsibility. in Limpopo, the pro-capitalist Human rights commission published a report in which it concluded that Anglo American infringed on local peoples rights by digging up their graves and apartheid style forceful removal of this people from their ancestral land. Attempts had been made over the years by Khulumani support group to have companies like Anglo- American and other multi national capitalist to pay reparation to people whose lives have been lost or damaged by apartheid government with the help of these imperialist companies, but the south African government opposed this litigation several times. That the government now verbally supports the right of Khulumani to claim for the people does not detract from the role of the ANC , the Human Rights Commission and of khulumani to use the courts rather than the revolutionary action of the masses to achieve the demands of the masses- on the contrary, these groups are united by the use of the courts as a means to divert the masses from their own strength and role. The use of the courts here keep the masses passive and disarms them from their only weapon- the united revolutionary mass action of the working class in the semi-colonies with that of our allies in the imperialist centres. The courts will drag out the process to defuse and diffuse the struggle of the masses.
In Mpumalanga’s lowveld area where there is high percentage of rainfall and the best soil for agricultural activities, people have been forcefully removed from their ancestral land, first to give way for mining, in the Pilgrims rest area and then again for monoculture industrial plantations. These plantations are regulated by FSC (FOREST STEWARD COUNCIL) as supposedly responsibly managed forests whereas these are not forests but industrial plantations. According to the FSC, 80% of the plantations are ‘responsibly’ managed. On average ,there are 6 million of hectares of ‘unmanaged’ areas in which trees have spread in steep, very difficult to harvest places. So taking consideration only of the ‘managed’ plantations, estimated at 40%, over 3 million hectares of land in SA are riddled with monoculture plantation , these are the most high rainfall places, most bio diversified and with the best soil there is.
These monoculture trees are known to consume large quantity of water ,one tree consumes a minimum of 25 litres water per day , which is equivalent to the basic free allocation for each person per day. One hectare plantation has a minimum of about 1thousand trees ,so 1,5 million hectares has got 1,5 billion trees which are drawing an amount of 37,5 billion litres per day , if this is compared to a population of 50 million people using 25 litres of water allocation per day, this amount to 1,25 billion litres per day. These timber plantations are using 30 times more water per day than the population’s daily allocation.
These plantations comprise alien invasive trees species and therefore should not qualify FSC certification under present regulations. The trees used in plantations in SA are category 2 alien invaders in terms of the new national legislation. Fsc also allows invasive alien weed species to spread from their plantation because the monopolies who control these plantations disregard the even their own bourgeois law. Their reaction to the crisis has been minimal ,but why government does not hold this multi national bourgeoisie like sappi, mondi etc accountable for their role in impacting on the water supply to the communities living in areas affected by this plantations? Some of the leaders of the Anc play a direct or indirect role in passive political action or reaction to this crisis because the treasurer general of the ANC Mr Matthew Phosa has some BEE acquired shares through his company Vuka holdings in one of the companies involved in timber plantations( HMH), therefore there the lack of political will to address this matter is not unexpected. The biodiversity of soil and its quality is being eroded; the masses are without water while the imperialist bourgeoisie are raking in super profits and the government is doing nothing about this. The Cosatu and SACP leaders are quiet too as they are alliance with these very same capitalists they are supposed to be fighting; their investment arms maximise profit while the masses are without water; the CEO’s of the BBBEE companies are millionaires, the trade union leaders pay themselves 100% wage increases while 1 million workers are dismissed.
Cosatu workers: break with the capitalist ANC and SACP!
We call for an urgent workers summit uniting workers, unemployed and soldiers, to prepare a programme of action to resist the capitalist onslaught and to fight for our demands!
Expropriate all the banks without compensation to the capitalists- centralise all the banks into one bank under workers’ control!
Expropriate all the large construction companies, without compensation and place them under workers control!
Nationalise all the land under workers control, without compensation to any capitalist!
Divide all the work among all those who can work, without loss of pay!
Increase wages when prices increase- no to multi-year agreements!
Equal pay for equal work across the southern African region!
Take the example of workers’ peasants and soldiers unity against imperialism in Madagascar to the whole of Southern Africa!
Expropriate all imperialist assets without compensation and place them under workers control!
Adequate Houses and services for all is only possible if the workers take power against the imperialists and their puppets in Africa and in the imperialist centres!
South African human rights(mining-related observation and recommendation: Anglo platinum, communities and stake holders, in and around ppl mine, limpop)
Geasphere (pulping the future),www.geasphere.co.za,www.globalforestcoalition.org
Botes et al the cauldron of local protest : reasons ,impacts and lessons learned(university of free state , centre for developmental support)
Schmit M : unrest only way to get the anc’s attention.(Sunday independent 20 February 2005
Atkinson d : taking to the street :has developmental local government failed in south Africa,(hrsc press cape town 2007)