Monday, January 27, 2014

Big business is drafting Abbott's horror budget

Vanguard February 2014 p. 1
Bill F.

The federal budget is due to be released by Treasurer Joe Hockey in May this year. It promises to be a blueprint for savage austerity measures and increased attacks on the livelihood of the working people.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his motley crew have out-sourced the job of drawing up targets for harsh austerity cuts and anti-worker legislation to their mates in the Business Council of Australia (BCA).

The BCA should more properly be known as the “Big Business” Council of Australia, since it is comprised of the 100 biggest companies in this country, many of them foreign corporate monopolies or companies with large foreign share-holdings. It represents the most powerful and influential core of monopoly capitalism in Australia.

No surprise therefore, that Abbott has appointed Tony Shepherd, straight from his role as president of the “Big Business” Council, to head up his Commission of Audit which will examine all government spending and services and suggest/order where the axes will fall and what will be out-sourced or privatised. “All items are on the table” said Shepherd when asked about extending the rate and scope of the Goods and Services Tax.

Just to be sure that no detail is missed and no section of the working people escapes unharmed, the Executive Officer for the Commission of Audit will be Peter Crone, Chief Economist for the “Big Business” Council.

In addition to the Commission of Audit, the Productivity Commission has been tasked with a whole series of reviews into such things as pension rates and benefits, grants and concessions, taxes, industrial laws and union governance, child care, the motor vehicle industry as well as existing legislation that protects the natural environment and preserves national parks and conservation areas.

On the chopping block

Government spokespeople and public service bureaucrats have already leaked a few selective items, partly because they cannot contain their joy at the opportunity to belt the working class into submission, but also to test the water and work out how far they can go before all hell breaks loose.

Also on their list…

Postage stamps and rates and delivery frequency – as a prelude to full privatisation of Australia Post

Privatisation of Medibank Private

Privatisation of SBS

$6 “co-payment” to visit the doctor – and then get rid of bulk-billing altogether

National education curriculum and education funding

Parasite health funds

Just two days before Christmas, the government announced increases in the premiums for the private health funds ranging from 6-8%, almost triple the official level of inflation.  Over the past 15 years, average private health fund premiums have risen by 130%, while average prices have gone up by less than 50%.

For example, Medibank Private which posted $232.7 million profit last financial year, easily topping the $126.6 million it made in the previous year, has been granted a 6.5% lift in customer premiums.

Talk about fattening the cow for market! Now it’s fattening the cow for privatisation! That can only mean further increases down the track, while public health services are being run down and starved for funds.

Open slather for big business

While hacking into anything that benefits the people, the government has been smoothing the way for the corporate monopolies and big business to boost their profit-making. Hand-outs to the mining industry amount to $4.5 billion a year according to the Australia Institute, and pay for the roads, fuel, ports and railways that cart away our mineral wealth.

Not only are the carbon tax and mining tax going, going, gone, but so too are many regulations and limitations on foreign investments and environmental approvals, sneeringly referred to as “red tape” and “green tape”.

Perks such as ‘profit shifting’ to off-shore tax havens and negative gearing on investment properties will continue for the rich and better-off, but there will be no such relief for ordinary workers.

No choice but struggle

Waiting for a Labor government is no good. Working people will have to make a stand. They will have to find ways to get conversations going in their workplaces and communities, to get people organised to protest and to put demands on the government and the big business bosses. Demands not just to “back off” but to “get out of our way”. In fact, all hell should break loose!

Too many elephants

Vanguard February 2014 p. 2
Verity M.


Warren Mundine (above, right) delivered a speech to the Gama Festival  corporate dinner,    'Four Giant Steps: Shooting The Elephants'. 

The Gama Festival and conference on Indigenous culture, policy and economic development is held  in Darwin.  The conference audience was comprised primarily of a cross section of 'the most successful companies in Australia '. Mundine's speech was obviously tailored to this audience just as the advisory committee  he leads advising  Tony Abbott has structured its thinking to meet the needs of the Coalition and capital.

Mundine began  his speech with a run through of the seemingly intractable problems impacting on the lives of Aboriginal people, too well known to need reiterating here. These he attributed to failed policies over preceding decades but in  particular the failure of these  to challenge the collective ownership of land and the closed nature of remote communities.  These are two of the elephants in the room which, according to Mundine, impede economic development and 'wealth creation' in remote Aboriginal communities.

Mundine speaks of the possibility and desirability of the establishment of Aboriginal small business in remote areas and of course that is desirable and possible given funding, training and ongoing support, providing of course there is sufficient population to support the facility.

What Mundine is really pushing is the privatisation of Aboriginal land to facilitate commerce which in turn, so the conservative belief goes, creates  employment.  Private land ownership according to Mundine is "the foundation of commercial systems and a critical enabler for economic development". In another part of his speech, Mundine speaks of "outside investment" as a means of lifting the living standards  of remote Aboriginal communities. 

This kind of thinking fits in snugly with Abbot's message to the world that "Australia is open for business" or more accurately 'for sale'. The largest elephant in the room is obviously foreign investment.  It seems the prevailing vision is for Aboriginal lands to be open for business particularly the kind of business that delivers huge profits for international capital. Once the land is bought /99-year leased it can be developed in any way the new owners find most profitable unless the sale/lease is tightly regulated and this is not a regulating government. 

Open access to Aboriginal lands may entice some small businesses to set up a commercially viable business in an aboriginal community but opening land for commercial interests will primarily benefit global mining and agricultural capital which will move in, take over the land and give a few locals a job. Sounds like neo-colonialism, a lot like old colonialism that created the problem in the first place.

What is missing in Mundine's speech is the voices of the people living in the remote areas Mundine is talking about.  Mundine's committee is not going to solve the problems he itemises in hisspeech , nor is big business. 

Global capital is feverishly seeking investment opportunities, particularly in the energy sector and agriculture is also becoming a money spinner with Asian markets seeking more Australian produced food. Marketing Aboriginal land must sound very appealing to governments more interested in meeting the needs of international capital than in meeting the needs of their own people.
Incidentally, Abbot has set up a committee to examine locations for dumping uranium waste - only local waste of course, but if government can find a bit of land to dump the waste of the international nuclear industry then it will be doing some capitalist a big favour.  They would not want to hold their breath however; there is almost universal resistance to using Australia as a dumping ground for the world's uranium waste.

Rural Round-up

Vanguard February 2014 p. 2
Duncan B

Up-date on take-overs.


Much to everybody’s surprise, Treasurer Joe Hockey rejected US giant Archer Daniels Midlands take-over bid for Australian grain trader Graincorp.

Hockey declared that ADM’s $3.4 billion bid was contrary to the national interest.

Hockey copped a barrage of criticism over his decision from bodies such as the Business Council of Australia and the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. Both organisations are concerned about the message this decision sends to other potential foreign investors.

Hockey was quick to stress that “we are open for business. Of the more than 130 applications that have come over my desk since the election, only one has been declined and this is it.”

Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.


In mid-January, Bega, which was at one stage in the race for WCB sold its 18.8% share in WCB to the Canadian dairy giant Saputo, which is trying to take over WCB.

This gives Saputo a 45.25% share in WCB.

Murray Goulburn, the other contender for WCB is still waiting the outcome of an ACCC hearing into its bid for WCB.

There is speculation that Murray Goulburn will pull out of the race and sell its 17.5% share in WCB to Saputo.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that China Bright Food Co Ltd, will, through its Australian subsidiary company Manassen Foods, buy the Western Australian dairy processor Mundella Foods. Mundella produces cheese and yoghurt and has a small but valuable share of the market in WA.

Rights are won, not given

Vanguard February 2014 p. 3

“Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich – that is the democracy of the capitalist society.”  (V.I. Lenin)

And this is how it is in Australia today.  Big business, not the working people, really run parliament and all the arms of the capitalist state - legal, police, army. Federal and State laws and regulations are designed to protect and facilitate the exploitation of workers and plunder of the environment, and to suppress any resistance.

Most of the rights and liberties that working people have enjoyed in this country until recently have been won through many battles, sacrifices and hardships starting with the Eureka Stockade rebellion.  These hard won rights have always been under attack by big business and foreign monopoly capital, but always defended by people’s struggles. 

Big business is now mounting a new wave of intensified exploitation of labour and austerity on the people – cuts to community services, health, education, welfare.  It demands governments shift more of public funds to big business, while facilitating cuts in wages, conditions.  It wants all restrictions on labour be removed, a casualised workforce, no penalty rates, and freedom for corporations to bring in overseas labour on lower wages and conditions.  It directs governments to remove all obstacles to plunder of the environment.  That is the objective of the Commission of Audit, headed by Tony Shepherd.

Under the directives of biggest monopolies in Australia – the Business Council of Australia, construction companies, developers and mining corporations - the State and Federal governments are adding more oppressive laws to the armoury of the state to deal with rebellious workers and communities.

The desperate measures by the capitalist state are a sign of the ruling class own weakness and fear of mass movements and outbreak of mass struggle.

Following the draconian anti-bikie club laws of Queensland’s LNP Newman state government, the Victorian LNP government is preparing to legislate more laws that cut even deeper into the rights of working people and communities to protest, picket, to even take ‘legal’ industrial action, to hold rallies and take solidarity action. The laws give wider powers to police and the courts to order and ban individuals and organisations from protesting, picketing and attending peaceful rallies and community assemblies. 

These laws carry heavy financial penalties and gaol for breaches of ‘move on’ orders. They are aimed to weaken and intimidate workers and unions fight for wages, conditions and the right to show solidarity with each other’s struggles.  They are aimed at communities and environmental groups opposing destruction of their local neighbourhoods, livelihoods and the environment by the multinational construction companies and mining corporations hungry to mine coal seam gas and other profitable minerals. 

The Federal government’s new Building and Construction Industry Bill strengthens and widens the scope of the Howard government’s original ABCC, giving greater powers to courts and bigger fines.   It captures workers and unions in the transport, maritime, manufacturing, warehousing, and off shore oil and gas drilling industries. 

The new Federal ABCC Bill and the Victorian government’s Summary Offences and Sentencing Bill virtually ban rallies, protests and picketing by workers, even during the EBA protected periods.  Communities and environmental movements are targeted.

Working people’s history and experience has shown that the draconian anti-worker and anti-people laws have only been pushed back in the course of struggle and in defiance of these laws, to improve workers’ rights and conditions, protect the environment.

It’s also in the course of these struggles that the strength and confidence of working people has grows and ensures that these laws are made unenforceable by the state.

Gonski campaign to continue

Vanguard February 2014 p. 3
Nick G.

Public education workers are determined to continue campaigning for a new deal in education funding in 2014.
Labor finally took on board a 20-year campaign by supporters of public education for a better funding deal for their sector.

 Abbott and Pyne tried to put the matter to rest prior to last year’s Federal election, promising to match Labor’s Gonski commitments “dollar for dollar” and touting a so-called “unity ticket on education”.

 Abbott and Pyne undermine Gonski

This was revealed almost immediately as a bare-faced lie.  All they had committed to was the funding contained in the first four years of a six year funding package.  With most of the funding coming in the last two years of the package, their “commitment” was to just one third of the total.

And as AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos noted recently, “Gonski is not just about extra money, but changing how money is invested in schools”.

Gonski pledged to put the extra money into addressing equity issues in education, giving all schools a base level of funding, but providing extra where there were greater numbers of disadvantaged students, and giving greater again where there were higher concentrations of disadvantage.

Representing the most reactionary sections of the ruling class, those sections that regard any spending on socially disadvantaged groups as a waste of resources, Abbott and Co first denied that Australian schools had an equity problem, and then started working on their own version of equity according to which all schools, from the most wealthy and elite closed door private colleges to the most run-down, poorest “we’ll-take-you-all” public schools should get equal amounts of funding.

Theft from the disadvantaged

Theft from the disadvantaged is most prominently displayed in the three places that refused to sign up to Gonski – WA, Queensland and the NT.  They have now been given their Gonski funds by Abbott and Pyne minus any obligation to use it as Gonski intended.

In WA an extra $31m of Gonski funds is unlikely to make it to schools given that total cuts to schools in the current financial year already exceed $100m.  Five hundred education jobs have been cut and teacher numbers have been capped at 2013 levels despite increased public school enrolments.

In Queensland, the extra funding of $131m of Gonski funds looks more likely to replace funding from the state government’s own budget than to end up in schools.

In the NT, and extra $68m of Gonski funds is likewise set to remain in the Territory Government’s coffers as education minister Peter Chandler proceeds to cut over 100 jobs in teaching and support staff. 

Put money where it is needed

To promote the goals of getting WA, Queensland and the NT to commit to using Gonski funding for those for whom it was intended - disadvantaged students in the first place - and to force Abbott and Pyne to agree to the full six-year Gonski funding package and funding framework, the AEU and its supporters will send campaign buses to Canberra from all corners of the continent in March as the first part of a long-term campaign.

There should not be huge gaps in the resource standards for schools.

No worker should have to search beyond his or her community for a school happy to take his or her children and provide them with the very best of resources and opportunities.


Every parent of a disadvantaged child or a child with disabilities should be confident that their child will be supported in a local school by additional funding and support.

These are the basic elements of a working class agenda for immediate improvements to school education in this country.

Extracting Australia from the grip of imperialism. Australia's two-stage revolution: a contribution to discussion

Vanguard February 2014 p. 4
by Alex M.

One of the central elements of the political programme of the CPA (ML) is the concept of the ‘two-stage revolution’.

 The party’s analysis of the concrete social, political and economic conditions of contemporary Australia reveal that there is no easy road to socialism in this country.

 Despite the difficulties, the goal of building socialism here, and by extension, across the globe, is not only desirable but also possible. Given that Australia is where we are situated, our primary arena of struggle has to be this country. How then can we accomplish the task of building socialism in Australia?   

The obstacle of imperialism

The key feature of contemporary Australia is that it is dominated by US imperialism.

 A relatively recent and lucid definition of imperialism – which enhances previous work on the subject by Lenin amongst others - has been developed by David Harvey and is worth bearing in mind because it helps us make sense of the world and Australia’s place in it.

According to Harvey, imperialism (and by that is meant the specific form of capitalist imperialism) has two components which exist in a dialectical relationship.

The two components of imperialism are on the one hand the ‘politics of the state and empire’ which is a ‘distinctively political project on the part of actors whose power is based in command of a territory and a capacity to mobilize its human and natural resources towards political, economic, and military ends’.

On the other hand there are the ‘molecular processes of capital accumulation in space and time’ which Harvey suggests are integral to imperialism and ‘…in which command over and use of capital takes primacy’ (Harvey, 2005: p.26).

 Harvey glosses this further by incorporating the concept of logics of power drawn from the work of Giovanni Arrighi. In short, capitalist imperialism is made up of two logics of power, the ‘territorial’ and the ‘capitalist’. They are different from one another, but they are parts of a whole.

The ‘territorial’ logic of power is the recognition that in the realm of global politics, states may act in the interests of particular classes but ‘[p]oliticians and statesmen (sic) typically seek outcomes that sustain or augment the power of their own state vis-à-vis other states’.

The ‘capitalist’ logic of power is not as territorially based and does not have the same time constraints that apply in the bourgeois democracies, that is, electoral cycles, but as Harvey points out ‘capitalist firms come and go, shift locations, merge, or go out of business’ (Harvey, 2005: p.27).

The capitalist accumulation process lies at the heart of this logic of power.

Thus there are two sides to capitalist imperialism, two logics in operation which exist in a dialectical relationship.

Sometimes it is possible that what is driving particular global and/or domestic events is not so much the pressures of capitalist accumulation, the ‘capitalist’ logic of power, rather it is the ‘territorial’ logic of power that is the dominant factor. That is, states and their actors are the driving forces behind events.

A recent example would be the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the US and the so-called ‘Coalition of the Willing’. The invasion was not primarily driven by business interests (though business interests did benefit – Halliburton for one) but by Bush and his cronies who sought to enact ‘regime-change’ in Iraq and underline the strength of US power in the region and thus globally. The US state was acting as the imperialist thug par excellence invading and occupying a sovereign country.

At other times, the ‘capitalist’ logic of power is the dominant factor, with the state helping to promote the interests of particular corporations and/or sectoral interests. One only has to look at the TPPA for evidence of the operation of this logic.   

Imperialism’s impact on Australia

How then does this influence the situation in Australia?

As noted above Australia is dominated by US imperialism. The mainstream political parties here accept the hegemonic position of the US state in international politics.

The ANZUS treaty binds Australia militarily with the US and closer military ties with the latter have been a disturbing feature of the past decade. Labor and Coalition federal governments have demonstrated an eagerness to uncritically accept US foreign policy goals and integrate Australia into America’s ‘territorial’ logic of power. Australia largely acts as a ‘client state’ of the sole superpower.

Regarding the other part of the dialectical relationship that makes up imperialism, the ‘capitalist’ logic of power, we see that US based multinational corporations (or US capital in short) dominate the commanding heights of the Australian economy. Trade agreements act to increase the presence, depth and breadth of US capital in Australia. American pharmaceutical corporations, for example, want the PBS scheme eroded to help maximise their profits.

There is scope for Australian governments and capitalist corporations to make decisions relatively autonomously such as ‘turning back the boats’ or making overseas investments (hello QANTAS) but the US imperialist framework remains currently inviolable.

Two stages of the Australian revolution

Recognising the constraints imposed on Australian political and economic development by US imperialism, our party has proposed a two stage process in ridding Australia of the incubus of imperialism.

The first stage is the winning of real independence with Australian working class interests to the fore.

The process involves the coming together of the masses of the Australian population led by the working class, to amongst other things, fashion an independent foreign policy free from subservience to US geopolitical imperatives.

In tandem with this struggle, it will be necessary to develop and implement alternative economic policies to the neoliberal agenda which predominantly benefits US capital and which presently blights the Australian and global capitalist economy.

The first stage will culminate in a truly independent Australia on the basis of which the second stage, the building of socialism can then proceed. This is how we can accomplish the task of building socialism in Australia.


Harvey, David. The New Imperialism Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005.     

Changing times require changing tactics

Vanguard February 2014 p. 5
Louisa L.

The guard is changing in teaching. Many are retiring and young teachers face a much bleaker environment than their elders did.

Yet the history of campaigns for justice teaches that people will continue to fight, even in the most difficult circumstances, but that doing things the same old way in new conditions means you get smashed.

World War One saw flesh and blood hurled against walls of bullets. It was not till the advent of tanks that the stalemate was broken. In China, Mao led the people to victory after near annihilation, rebuilding in Yan’an and en route in the Long March.

In NSW, teachers and other workers used to go on strike till the Industrial Relations Commission figured they had the numbers and strength to win. They’d rule in the workers’ favour,  even while fining the union for striking. Employers would grit their teeth and put up with it.

Since O’Farrell organised the state wages legislation, the Commission can still fine unions, but they can’t award a pay increase beyond 2.5 per cent, because the government’s rewritten the rule book and productivity arguments have been abolished. Until the legislation is overturned, there will be no ruling above 2.5. One union alone cannot defeat that legislation.

Devolution quarantined

In late 2013 the government attached a restructure to teacher salary negotiations, with traps that could have seen the union accused of 'protecting bad teachers' and opposing professionalism if they opposed the changes. It exploited existing fault lines between various sections of the workforce, but, critically, quarantined the devolution agenda. It also enshrined teaching qualifications, a key protection against educational vandals worldwide, including Pyne and Abbott, and significantly increased professional development funding.

While conditions are left intact, some see it as undermining the very collective, mass structures of teachers' employment. The concern is genuine and has some foundation.  Yet the Teachers Federation Council, which brings 280 delegates together from across the state twice each term, after unanimously rejecting its first incarnation,   overwhelmingly supported the agreement, when some  sticking points were resolved.

This was endorsed at stopwork meetings across the state, attended by over 17,500 teachers.

Key links

Teacher unions have been fighting on a series of fronts, and the union has been keen to grasp the key battles, while closing down other fronts. Winning the Gonski battle is critical. Even Pyne's reopening of the history wars, as important as it is, is seen as a deliberate diversion from the main game.

Danger lurks if workers are not mobilised. Mass strikes and rallies give an unmatched sense of collective strength, but that can dissipate and turn into pessimism if victory is denied.

As a teacher at a stopwork meeting stated, “We're used to thinking of industrial action as the core of our activity, supplemented by political action in its broadest sense of people in action. Under current conditions it's the other way round. There's a reason Poodle Pyne got kicked back into his doghouse over Gonski, and that reason is us. We led that campaign without one minute of industrial action. We got private schools and a raft of Coalition leaders on our side through our members' strength and action over many years.” 

Stick together!

In a recent retirement speech, a teacher said, “We’re in for very tough times. The whip is in the hand of the rich and powerful, the Rupert Murdochs, the mining and construction companies, the banks. I reckon they’ve always run the joint, but ordinary people like us, organised and determined, have kept them from running amok for most of my adult life.

“It’s not about individuals, though of course each person is precious, with all our differences and occasional disagreements. As teachers, as people, we’re a collective…It will be more difficult for people to organise in the future, but there’s a basic method: to listen, ask questions, assess whether you can succeed, to be - as a Chinese leader said - like fish in a sea of people.
“It’s simple, common sense – stick together. If you can’t win the big victories, win the little ones. Don’t take unnecessary risks, but be brave. Across the school, across the state, across the country. If it gets too hard, back off, take stock. You can’t win everything. There are very powerful forces trying to divide and defeat you.

“But don’t give up. Stick together.”

Capital has no loyalty other than to maximise profits

Vanguard  February 2014 p. 5
Ned K.

The destruction of the car industry in Australia demonstrates the stark reality that capital has no loyalty to particular countries. In the age of imperialism and global competition, corporations set up production where they think they can make the most profit. In Australia, it suited General Motors and Ford to manufacture cars in Australia when tariffs and the scale of production plants made it profitable to do so. Now there are single car plants in China that produce more than the car plants of Toyota, General Motors and Ford in Australia combined in any one year. 

There are similar trends in other industries with some unexpected, unpredictable shifts in production. On 23 December 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported that a Chinese yarn spinning manufacturer, Keer Group, based in Hangzhou, is relocating its plant. You may think the relocation would be to Bangladesh or perhaps Cambodia? Wrong.  The yarn spinning plant is moving to South Carolina!

According to the Journal, a growing number of Asian based textile manufacturers are setting up production in the southern states of the USA because production costs are cheaper. The yarn is then sent to clothing sweat shops in Central America and the finished items are then sent back duty free to the USA retail market.
In both examples above, in whose interests were the decisions made to close factories, whether it be car or yarn spinning production?  Who made the decisions? Were they made by the workers through governments representing their interests? Or were the decisions made by a handful of owners of big capital seeking to maximise profit ?
These are the key questions to consider when contemplating what future lies ahead for car workers and car component workers in Australia with the closure of Ford and General Motors imminent and Toyota a real possibility to follow them.
Jay Weatherill, the SA Labor Premier, perhaps with the best intentions, is desperately seeking commitment from an alternative multinational company to set up production of something(!) in  the soon to be vacant General Motors plant at Elizabeth. However this is unlikely to occur and even if it does occur, on what terms and conditions would a new multinational ‘player’ set up here and for how long?
There is an opportunity for the Premier to strike a blow for Australian independence from the ravages of internationally roaming capital by a government takeover of the Elizabeth plant and equipment and manufacturing either environmentally sustainable vehicles or public transport. This would have widespread support from the workers, northern suburbs community and locally based manufacturing and services related business.
Workers here have the skill base to make this a reality.



Mandela's legacy - Liberation or capitulation?

Vanguard February 2014 p. 6
Max O.

An outpouring of tributes and obituaries came gushing forth from the worlds' media when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela died, in early December of last year. Over the last two decades the imperialist states and their media have presented him as the father of South Africa, creator of the Rainbow Nation and the archetypal figure of forgiveness.

All this is in contrast to the position they took against the anti-apartheid movement from the 1940's to the late 1980's. These reactionaries then did a complete somersault from condemning 'terrorism' to approving one man's monumental efforts for human dignity and opposition to racism!

But did Mandela single handedly really liberate the country and put an end to apartheid in South Africa? In all the effusive praise for Nelson Mandela much of the truth about the struggle to end racism and liberate the Azanian (land of the Africans) people has been deliberately omitted by the Western media, and by the African National Congress (ANC*) itself.

Undeniably Mandela sacrificed 27 years in prison for the struggle against apartheid; however it is misleading to say that it was only he and the ANC that led this resistance. There were other famous leaders and organisations that were out there facing off and combating the white South African regime. In actual fact the ANC was quite often caught out avoiding militant actions and later forced into playing catch-up!
Sharpeville and Soweto

The famous uprisings of Sharpeville and Soweto, names that went around the globe and brought to the world's peoples' attention the regime’s willingness to ruthlessly massacre Africans who resisted their racist policies, were not actually lead by Mandela and the ANC.

When Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe (above), leader of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC*) launched the positive action campaign against the pass laws and invited the ANC to join in, the Secretary-General of the ANC, Duma Nokwe rejected the offer and replied in the 20-3-1960, Johannesburg Sunday Times: "It is treacherous to the liberation movement to embark on a campaign which has not been prepared and which has no reasonable prospects of success."

The PAC had organised crowds of 50,000 people at Sharpeville and Langa on 21 March to present themselves to police without their passes and the regime responded by killing 83 people and wounding 365. The PAC leadership were arrested and on the 28 March, the Unlawful Organisation Bill was introduced that banned both the PAC and ANC.

Len Lee-Warden, a  member of the South African Parliament in 1960 and associated with the South African Communist Party, who was one of the four white representatives elected to represent Africans actually argued that only the PAC  should be banned, that the Government of the day ought to talk to the ANC to restore order in South Africa after Sharpeville.

After the Sharpeville massacre Sobukwe was put on trial that year, 1960 and refused to plead guilty or not guilty in court, because he declared the courts were illegitimate, set up according to laws entirely made by a white minority, without participation by the African majority. Sobukwe died 1978, a prisoner in Kimberly, under heavy restrictions which included denying him an exit permit to receive medical treatment from outside of South Africa.

Mandela faced the courts two years later, 1962 and then in the well-publicized 1964 Rivonia trial. Interestingly Mandela's trial speech recording has survived but not Sobukwe's trial speech.

Similarly the 1976 Soweto student uprising in opposition to using Afrikaans as a medium of instruction were the result of propaganda campaigns of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) and the PAC who galvanised youth support and participation in the struggle around Africanism and Black Consciousness. As a result the apartheid regime massacred at least 700 young Africans and saw the torture and murder of Steve Biko, the leader of the BCM.

Zeph Mothopeng, a PAC leader in Soweto at the time of the uprising, was soon after arrested and put on trial. The white judge, Justice Curlewis declared that Mothopeng had "...acted to sow seeds of anarchy and revolution. The riots he had engineered and predicted had eventually taken place in Soweto on 16 June, and Kagiso the next day."

He had led the teachers` fight against introduction of Bantu Education and was banned from teaching in 1953/54 when he was President of the Transvaal African Teachers Association (TATA). Mothopeng served two years with Sobukwe and other PAC leaders after Sharpeville, 1960-62, and was imprisoned with them on Robben Island, 1963 – 1968. He inter-acted very much with the  South African Students Organization (SASO) and Black Peoples Convention (BCP) in the years before the Soweto Uprising.  

(Above, centre, Cde. Zeph Mothopeng)

Mandela's capitulation started early 
Much fanfare has been made of Mandela's so-called groundbreaking trial speeches, however what has been overlooked was his continual willingness to make accommodations with the regime. For example Mandela announced at the Rivonia trial in 1964: "The ANC has never at any period of its history advocated a revolutionary change in the economic structure of the country, nor has it, to the best of my recollection, ever condemned capitalist society."

This foretold his eventual betrayal of black Africans, when as early as the 1970's, after Soweto 1976, Mandela privately started negotiations in secret with the racist Botha/de Klerk regime. That is why he was transferred from Robben Island in 1982 to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town, and then onto a Prison Officer`s house in Victor Verster Prison in 1985, All these transfers were designed to facilitate easy access to him for negotiations.

After the 1970's the ANC put enormous effort into marginalising  and eliminating rivals such as the PAC and the BCM and capture the leadership of the black movement, as opposed to leading a protracted revolt against the apartheid regime.

The racist regime, knowing that the ANC leadership were willing to compromise, and accepting that the apartheid regime was unsustainable were more than happy to start negotiations with them. Mandela without a blink ditched policies such as the so called Freedom Charter straight away.

Arundhati Roy, India's famous human rights activist stated that: "When Nelson Mandela took over as South Africa’s first Black President, he was canonised as a living saint, not just because he was a freedom fighter who spent 27 years in prison, but also because he deferred completely to the Washington Consensus. Socialism disappeared from the ANC’s agenda. South Africa’s great “peaceful transition”, so praised and lauded, meant no land reforms, no demands for reparation, no nationalisation of South Africa’s mines. Instead, there was Privatisation and Structural Adjustment."
Africans now suffer under the ANC

The plight of black Africans has not improved but rather has deteriorated  since Mandela and the ANC won government back in 1994. Many still suffer appalling living conditions of no running water, electricity, decent sanitation and in contrast they see a small black bourgeoisie cosying up to a white-imperialist dominated economy.

This political perfidy culminated in the ANC government using black police to gun down the Marikana miners in support of the Lonmin Corporation in 2012. 44 African mineworkers were murdered at Marikana, marking it as a watershed moment in the history of the ANC, Council of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

All three organisations opposed the Marikana mineworkers in their industrial dispute with the Lonmin Corporation. In fact Cyril Ramaphosa, a former leader of the NUM and COSATU and current vice president of the ANC, who is a board member of Lonmin, called on the 15 August 2012 for action to be taken against the striking miners. He is regarded as one of South Africa's richest men, with Forbes estimating his wealth at $675 million. Hence the moniker for his ilk, 'black diamonds'!

Unfortunately Mandela was no Chavez for he forfeited his claim to liberator many years ago. Much has been said about the hypocrisy of western media, politicians and celebrities mourning the death of a great forgiving man who stood up to racism.

Might not the same criteria be applied to Mandela himself? In the end he should be judged by the company of western media, politicians and celebrities he so craved and the neglect of his own people that he oversaw.

* The PAC split from the ANC in 1959. Essentially the difference between the two were that the ANC saw the struggle in terms of civil rights whereas the PAC saw it in terms of the African people being dispossessed of their country and winning back their sovereignty and land.