TAC Electronic Newsletter


22 May 2003



Outcomes of the Treatment Action Campaign National Executive Committee meeting - 18/19 May 2003


On 18/19 May 2003, the TAC National Executive Committee, together with staff and branch leaders from KwaZulu-Natal, met in Durban.  The meeting confirmed the ongoing determination of TAC to continue with all campaigns that are necessary to prevent new HIV infections; ensure that people with HIV receive the necessary care and treatment through the South African public health services; and that pharmaceutical companies and medical aid schemes provide medicines and services at a price that is affordable for the majority of people living with HIV.

In particular, the following decisions were taken:

  1. The NEC noted the proposed new date of 14 June 2003 for the meeting between TAC and the South African National AIDS Council.  There was concern about the length of the delay in holding this meeting, given the urgency of dealing with the AIDS crisis.  However, the NEC resolved to continue with the suspension of the civil disobedience campaign until this date.

  2. TAC will communicate to the Deputy President that we expect that by June 14th Cabinet will have decided on and announced a public sector antiretroviral treatment programme.  The NEC resolved that should government fail to do this, we will resume our civil disobedience campaign and consult with TAC supporters and allies to ensure that, if this is necessary, the largest number of people possible will be mobilized.  The TAC will also continue to prepare for legal action to demand a National Treatment and Prevention Plan as a constitutional duty of government.

  3. The NEC noted the confusion that exists in some quarters about the Civil Disobedience campaign and wishes to re-state that the campaign is one of mass based peaceful protest. It does not challenge the legitimacy of our government - but demands that it respond urgently to save the lives of people with HIV/AIDS. Although TAC has suspended its civil disobedience campaign, we will continue to organise demonstrations and pickets where necessary. Our criticisms of Government's inadequate response to the HIV epidemic will not be silenced.

  4. The NEC noted that the Department of Health / Treasury 'costing report' was complete and expressed satisfaction at the contents of this report.  It urged that the report be made available to the NEDLAC sectors, as well as to all members of SANAC and that a Cabinet decision based on the report be taken urgently.

  5. The NEC decided that TAC should join litigation against major banks and insurance companies in South Africa that continue to unfairly discriminate against people with HIV.  This arose in part from a report by TAC staff member Pholokgolo Ramothwala on how he had been refused a home loan by several banks because of his HIV infection.

  6. The NEC noted that Discovery Health medical scheme still discriminates between HIV and other chronic conditions.  It resolved to join legal action against Discovery Health.

  7. Two important court cases will occur in the near future regarding social grants. Access to social grants is an important part of TAC's advocacy, because people with HIV/AIDS frequently require social grants, especially when they become sick, in order to assist with their nutritional and other requirements so that they can have a better chance of improving or maintaining their health. Therefore, the NEC resolved that TAC supports the application to the Constitutional Court for an order confirming the constitutional invalidity of the provisions in the Social Assistance Act that disqualify persons who are not South African citizens from receiving welfare grants. The NEC also resolved that TAC will support upcoming litigation by ACESS, the Children's Rights Centre and Black Sash to increase access to social security grants especially for children by increasing flexibility of the application requirements.

  8. Much of the NEC's discussion focused on the strength of TAC in communities across South Africa.  TAC's priority now is to strengthen its branches and to work towards ensuring the delivery of quality health care services at a municipal and district level.  In this respect, resolutions were taken to work with communities to identify and overcome barriers to health care delivery, including stigma, poorly stocked clinics and hospitals, and poorly trained and demoralized health professionals. TAC has set aside the 6th of June to highlight the difficult conditions of health-care workers in the public sector. Should government policy change to include an ARV programme and should NEDLAC adopt the draft framework agreement, TAC will concentrate its efforts at community level while continuing campaigns to drive down prices of essential medicines.

  9. The TAC will be holding provincial congresses during June and July 2003 and its second National Congress from 1-3 August 2003.

For further information contact:

Nonkosi Khumalo: 072 231 1422
Mark Heywood: 083 634 8806
 
 [END OF NEC STATEMENT]

Upcoming TAC National Events

26 May: 18 TAC members charged with trespassing at the Department of Trade and Industry will appear before the Cape Town Magistrates Court

6 June: Continuation of Health Care Workers Conditions of Service Campaign - further details will be announced

14 June: SANAC meeting with TAC (Venue not set yet)

[END OF UPCOMING EVENTS]

Hamba Kahle Nomfundo Samana, Nonpumelelo Ndlamhlaba-Coba , Phozisa Melikana, Petudzai Nyanhanda

Nomfundo Samana of TAC Western Cape Queenie Qiza branch in Gugulethu Section 3 and Nonpumelelo Ndlamhlaba-Coba of TAC Western Cape New Crossroads and Nyanga branches have died. Their funerals were held over the last two weekends respectively. Nomfundo was the co-founder of Masiphathisane Youth Club in her area. She spent much of her time supporting people with HIV/AIDS and she was her TAC branch leader. Nonpumelelo participated in the MTCT programme in KTC hospital. She represented her support group, Sakheka, in TAC. She was an active home based care worker who supported poor people with HIV.  Nompumelelo paid for a funeral policy with the  South African Christian Funeral Fund. They refused to pay for her funeral. TAC Western Cape will be holding a demonstration at Phillipi Small Business tomorrow at 10am against this company's discriminatory policy. Neither Nomfundo nor Nonpumelelo had access to antiretrovirals.

Phozisa Melikana died this weekend of AIDS. She was a member of the TAC Western Cape Langa branch and the Vanguard support group. She was due to start antiretroviral treatment shortly, but she contracted Multi-drug Resistant Tuberculosis and died before she could begin her antiretroviral treatment. Pozisa assisted in  TAC's treatment literacy programme, Project Ulwazi.

Women and AIDS Support Network of Zimbabwe reports the death of Petudzai Nyanhanda. The following obituary is from them:

This is to inform you that Petudzai Nyanhanda, a board member of the Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN), has died. Petu, as she was affectionately known, was 34 years old.
 
Petu will be remembered as a pillar in local AIDS activism. She was among the first few women to speak openly about her status, following her diagnosis in 1992, and was for a long time heavily involved in various organisations and activities that were aimed at improving the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS while preventing more infections.
 
Petu was one of the women who participated in the Voices and Choices Research in Zimbabwe, a project that was jointly conducted by WASN and the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW) and looked into the sexual and reproductive health of HIV positive women.
 
Through her positive lifestyle, Petu proved to the world that an HIV positive diagnosis was not a death sentence and it is possible to live a healthy, normal and fulfilling life regardless of one's HIV status.
 
Her positive attitude helped to dispel the negative myths about people living with HIV, while giving courage to many who had been diagnosed as being positive.
 
Certainly, WASN will miss the contribution she made through her membership to the board.  Her unwavering commitment towards the fight for better lives for people living with HIV, particularly women, will be sadly missed.The void she has left can never be filled.
 
May her soul rest in peace.



[END OF OBITUARIES]

Letter from Children's Rights Centre to SANAC


ATTENTION:        Dr. Mark Ottenweller
SANAC Secretariat
Telephone 011 463 6119

Dear Dr. Ottenweller,

Re: NGO Representation on SANAC

I am writing to you from the Children's Rights Centre.  We are a non-governmental organisation.  We work with extensive networks locally and nationally around a range of issues affecting children and their rights.  We are a key organisation in the Alliance for Children's Entitlement to Social Security (Coordinating partner ) and in the Civil Society Alternative Reporting Process to the United Nation's Committee on the Rights of the Child ( 150 organisations across all nine provinces).  We have key initiatives promoting and protecting children's rights in relation to HIV and AIDS.

We have been encouraged by reports that SANAC would take restructuring seriously.  We believe that it is vital that SANAC become effective and credible in order for us all to urgently address the multitude of crises precipitated by HIV and AIDS.

We have received reports that a National NGO Sector Summit is to be held on the 22 and 23 May 2003.  We have not received an invitation nor received any specific information about this.  In addition, when we contacted the Provincial NGO Coordinator in the Department of Health, Thuli Buthelezi, she informed us that she did not have further information on this process.

We are deeply disturbed that there has been no provincial communication and that key organisations have not been informed of this process.  This lack of consultation will result in a weak structure that does not have the confidence of all required.

We look forward to receiving an explanation of the planned process and wish to know who from the NGO sector has been drawn into this process.



Sincerely,




Cati Vawda
Director

[END OF CRC LETTER]


Is The Sowetan working for a political party?


By Mark Heywood, National Secretary, TAC

(Published in The Sowetan, 16 May 2003)
 
The Sowetan's editorial on Friday 9th April 2003, 'Loving AIDS activists' was factually inaccurate and politically deceitful. It does a disservice to journalism and this newspaper to publish such hogwash. A number of points need correction:

1. TAC does not belong to Zackie Achmat, despite your repeated description of it as "Zackie Achmat's TAC." Zackie is the elected chairperson of TAC and fulfils his duties in keeping with TAC's constitution and the mandate of its conference and National Executive Committee (NEC).
The day before your editorial your political reporter, Noxolo, was invited to attend a meeting of people with HIV who are members of TAC in Johannesburg. She sat next to me at this meeting, which was probably one of the largest gatherings of people with HIV in South Africa's history (over 350 people attended), and witnessed the democratic debate amongst TAC volunteers about the wisdom of the NEC decision to suspend our civil disobedience campaign. She witnessed people's anger at government callousness to their needs. She witnessed the questioning of the NEC decision. Strangely none of this was reflected in her article, which chose to misrepresent the debate, and quote only myself. TAC cannot be held to blame for perceptions about its leadership that are manufactured by journalists who choose to ignore ordinary people's voices.

2. The editorial again chose to misrepresent the relationship between TAC and COSATU claiming that there is a rift between the two organisations. This ignores a statement issued by COSATU on 30th April 2003 stating categorically that there is no rift. COSATU and TAC are different organisations, with different mandates and occasionally different opinions on issues. What unites us is our concern with the poor and our desire to protect life. At various points in the last three years COSATU has chosen to take a more reserved position on some of TAC's strategies. For example, in 2000 COSATU debated the justification of TAC's 'Defiance campaign' to unlawfully import an affordable generic drug, Fluconazole, from Thailand - but called for the government to take action against profiteering by multi-national drug companies. In 2002, COSATU held back from directly supporting TAC's litigation against the government on the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission -- but publicly called on the government to make Nevirapine widely available. This year, COSATU has questioned the use of the term 'civil disobedience' but repeatedly made it clear that it understands the anger and anguish of our activists - and agrees with TAC's demand for a National Treatment Plan. For your record, a civil disobedience campaign is not intended to challenge the legitimacy of the government, but to focus on one area where its policy is causing untold suffering and is against the national interest. Similarly, when COSATU chose to organise a general strike against the government, it would have been wrong to suggest that it was anti-government.
Democracy is about more than voting once every five years, and then surrendering your rights to influence or change government policy in the interim. If you instruct your journalists to really investigate TAC, you will find that this organisation has been a model citizen of the new South Africa. We have utilised the right to protest, the courts, research, the Human Rights Commission, the Competition Commission and Nedlac to try to change government policy - but on the issue of a commitment to anti-retroviral treatment we have drawn a blank. While our government has dithered and debated other Southern governments, notably Brazil, have rolled out treatment to over 120 000 poor people.

3. Finally, your editorial descends to unplumbed depths, by concluding that TAC's real motive is to form a new political party. It refers to "suggestions" to this effect. It is in the interests of your readers to know who is making these "suggestions" - because that will quickly alert them to their truth. Are the "suggestions" coming from the same people who have previously suggested in the pages of this newspaper that TAC is "poisoning" the people; that TAC is an "ultra-left" organisation in the pay of pharmaceutical companies; that TAC and PAGAD are two sides of the same coin?
If so, you should say so. Then it will be obvious that this is a new falsity invented once again to try to turn people's eyes away from the real issues.

I conclude with a question to the editor: Is six hundred HIV related deaths a day not good enough reason for TAC's campaigns? This figure, which has not been contested by government, is cause for anger and outrage. Perhaps, when historians start to look back at the causes and consequences of this long period of inaction, they will ask why newspapers, such as this one, were so passive and accepting in the face of an epidemic that robbed so many people of wellness, hope and life.

[END OF REPLY TO SOWETAN EDITORIAL]

PRESS RELEASE FROM GLOBAL HEALTH COUNCIL


COURAGEOUS AIDS ACTIVISTS SHARE 2003 JONATHAN MANN AWARD


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two tireless advocates in the fight against HIV/AIDS will share the 2003 Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights.  Mr. Abdurrazack "Zackie" Achmat of Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in South Africa and Dr. Frenk Guni, former executive director of the Zimbabwe Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, will receive the prestigious award on May 29 in Washington, D.C.

The Mann Award is bestowed annually in honor of the late Dr. Jonathan Mann to an active practitioner carrying out a commitment to health and human rights, often at great personal danger.  The $20,000 award is jointly overseen by three partners:  Doctors of the World, the Association François-Xavier Bagnoud, and the Global Health Council.  This year's award also includes support from John Snow, Inc. and an anonymous donor.
 
"These outstanding advocates are being honored because they had the courage to demand from their governments a responsible public sector response to the devastating public health threat to southern Africa, the world's most AIDS-devastated region," said Dr. Nils Daulaire, President and CEO of the Global Health Council.  "Both are compelling voices for advancing the global response to AIDS treatment as a matter of basic rights."  

Daulaire praised the activists as "outstanding advocates" for providing access to antiretroviral treatments, regardless of ability to pay, and for challenging their respective governments to provide care and treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS. 

Dr. Guni has been voluntarily expatriated due to his opposition to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's policies regarding the politically-driven use of AIDS funds, and Achmat has faced backlash against TAC for his opposition to South African President Thabo Mbeki's unwillingness to allow AIDS treatment to be included in the government's health programs.  Both activists are themselves people living with AIDS.

Through his work with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Zackie Achmat has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS throughout the spectrum of South African society.  Achmat has used his own HIV positive condition as a platform upon which to advocate for equity and illustrate that health care is a basic human right. His private insurance would pay for the ARV treatment he needs, but he refuses to take any treatment that is not  available to everyone. He is a man willing to die for his convictions that all should have an equal right to care. His unwavering tenacity has kept this issue on the forefront of South Africa's public agenda.

Achmat, who will not be able to travel to Washington for the awards program, was informed of being a co-recipient of this year's award by telephone.  "This recognition is for all Africans living with HIV and AIDS," Achmat said.  "I plan on donating the award monies directly to TAC's treatment fund."

Dr. Guni founded and became the executive director of the 1.5 million-strong Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with AIDS (ZNNP+) in 1992, helped develop the country's national HIV/AIDS policy, piloted innovative peer education programs throughout the country and lobbied parliament to create the Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS Council Act. 

"It is unfortunate that in my part of the world, the people in leadership positions do not really view constructive criticism as a healthy state of affairs," said Dr. Guni.  "They look at it as a threat to their political power. It is painful to be persecuted for being an advocate."

Guni underscores that all of his efforts have been intertwined with becoming a tangible and public voice for the countless people living with the disease who could not speak for fear of stigma, or whose cries for help were not being heard.  He said, "I'm an advocate for equitable access to healthcare. People have the right to receive competent drugs and treatment when they're available. Many governments say that because treatment isn't affordable, it's not a right."

Dr. Guni, who fled Zimbabwe in November 2001, is currently in the United States where he is receiving medical treatment for lymphoma and HIV.   Each previous Jonathan Mann winner has been selected for similar health and human rights efforts under stressful, oppressive and often violent conditions. With the help of the Award, each has had a remarkable impact on the delivery of health care and the protection of human dignity in their respective countries, including Israel and the West Bank, China, Kosovo and Myanmar.

The presentation of the award and its $20,000 prize will be made during the Global Health Council's 30th annual international conference Our Future on Common Ground: Health and the Environment.   ABC News anchor Carole Simpson will serve as banquet mistress of ceremonies for the annual awards banquet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 29, the Omni Shoreham Hotel Regency Ballroom.   World health leaders and nearly 2,000 conference participants from more than 60 nations will attend the international global health conference.

Dr. Jonathan Mann (1947-1998) was a voice of conscience and a tireless advocate for people around the world denied the basic human rights of health and dignity.  He and his wife Mary Lou Clements-Mann were aboard Swissair Flight 111 when it plunged into the Atlantic on Sept. 2, 1998.

Dr. Mann had been the first director of WHO's Global Programme on AIDS, and had subsequently founded Harvard University's FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. Working with the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, he had ambitious plans to put human rights at the center of global health policy. For additional information on the Jonathan Mann Award, contact:  jmannaward@globalhealth.org. 

Photographs of the 2003 awardees are available at: http://www.globalhealth.org/awards/2003award_recipients.php#mann

An online photograph of Dr. Mann is available at:
http://www.globalhealth.org/awards/mann_info.php3. 

                    PAST WINNERS

2002    Dr. Ruchama Marton and Salah Haj Yehya, two medical workers, one Israeli and one Israeli-Palestinian, who work
side-by-side to administer health care and medical treatment in the conflict-ridden West Bank.

2001Retired gynecologist Dr. Gao Yaojie of Henan Province, China, who discovered that blood-selling was central to the
problem of AIDS affecting people in Henan province.

2000    Co-winners: Albanaian pediatricians, Dr. Flora Brovina, founder and director of the League of Albanian Women (Pristina,
Kosovo) and Dr. Vjosa Dobruna, founder and director of the Center for the Protection of Women and Children (Pristina, Kosovo) for their activities regarding the psychosocial needs of women and children victims of war crimes.

1999Cynthia Maung, director of the Mae Tao Clinic (Thailand) for committing her life to healing victims of human rights
abuses in her native Burma.

# # #

The Global Health Council is the world's largest membership alliance dedicated to saving lives by improving health throughout the world.  The Council serves and represents thousands of public health professionals from 103 countries on six continents.
www.globalhealth.org


[END OF JONATHAN MANN AWARD ANNOUNCEMENT]

Review of A History of Inequality in South Africa 1652 - 2002 by Sampie Terblanche

(Written by Nathan Geffen for the TAC Leadership School)

Professor Sampie Terreblanche is an economist at the University of Stellenbosh. He has had a long career studying and making recommendations on economics in South Africa. From 1979 to 1985 he served as a member of the economic advisory board of PW Botha. In the late 1980s, he was one of the prominent Afrikaner academics who held secret meetings with the ANC and Thabo Mbeki in the United Kingdom. These meetings examined how South Africa could change into a democracy. In 1989, he was a founding member and economic advisor of the Democractic Party, but he is no longer involved in party politics. Terreblanche started his career as a member of the Afrikaner establishment. Over the decades, his economics and politics have moved increasingly to the left. Today he is an advocate for social democracy in South Africa.

What is this book about and why is it important?

A History of Inequality in South Africa is a study of the economic history of South Africa since 1652 until the present. It explains why we now live in a society which has very large differences in wealth between the richest 10 to 20 per cent of the population, which is mainly white, and the poorest 40 to 50 per cent of the population, which is mainly black. It attempts to explain why poverty has been and remains such a big problem in South Africa.

The book is important for a number of reasons:

The ANC has denounced Terreblanche's book. Instead of addressing Terreblanche's arguments, some ANC writers have resorted to calling into question his character because of his past links with the white establishment.

It is important to understand that the book welcomes the new South Africa, democracy and its Constitutional freedoms. Despite the way some ANC writers have tried to portray Terreblanche, the book does not in any way suggest that life would have been better under the Apartheid system or white rule or that the economy would have been run better. Quite the opposite. However, Terreblanche makes a strong argument that white privilege and prejudice, the big corporations and their representatives, the change in the ANC's attitude towards building a social democracy and the lack of concern of the new black middle-class for the black poor have all contributed to excessive reliance on free market policies to alleviate poverty. This has clearly not worked.

What does the book say about the current state of poverty and inequality in South Africa


There are four critical issues keeping people trapped in poverty:
  1. high unemployment in an economy growing slowly;
  2. large inequalities in access to economic power, property and opportunities (these inequalities largely follow racial lines);
  3. dysfunctional social structures and high levels of crime in most communities;
  4. the combination of ill-health and exposure to violence and criminal behaviour in poor communities.
Some statistics demonstrate how serious some of these problems are: Unemployment in the formal sector has risen from 20.2% in 1970 and 36.1% in 1995 to an estimated 45.8% in 2001. The share of South Africa's income follows a similar pattern. In 1975 the poorest 40% of households received 5.2% of income. By 2001 this had decreased to 3.3%.

What does the book say about the period of the early 1990s when South Africa transformed into a democracy?

The chapter of the book dealing with South Africa's transition has arguably raised the most controversy. This is a summary of what Terreblanche argues:

When the ANC was in exile, it advocated for a new economic order in South Africa, based on the principles of the Freedom Charter. Up to the early 1990s the ANC even advocated for large corporations to be nationalised. Terreblanche argues that when negotiations began for changing South Africa into a democracy, the ANC won the political negotiations at CODESA. However, a combination of factors allowed the corporate sector to win the "informal economic negotiations."

The corporate sector, dominated by companies like Anglo American, has enormous resources at its disposal for ensuring its interests are met. It is dominated by a small number of very big corporations with financial, organisational and political power. Strong business associations such as SACOB, AHI and BSA represent it. The Urban Foundation and the Free Market Foundation are two well-funded propaganda organisations that advocate strongly for uncontrolled free markets. The corporate sector perpetuates many myths and half-truths such as (1) the corporate sector opposed or did not benefit from the Apartheid regime, (2) reliance on free market economics will result in growth for South Africa which will trickle down to the poor and (3) there is no need for a major restructuring of corporate South Africa. Because of the corporate sector's power, many ANC leaders now believe these myths. During the period of political negotiation, informal negotiations were taking place between ANC members and the leaders of big business. While Terreblanche does not explicitly say ANC leaders were bribed into being proponents of corporate ideology, much money was invested in impressing ANC leaders.

The ANC's economic department was weak in the early 1990s when South Africa's political dispensation was being negotiated. The Eastern Bloc countries were all falling apart and it had become apparent that Communism had failed there. The ANC had received much support from the Eastern Bloc. Many ANC economists were also sympathetic to the communist policies of the Eastern Bloc countries, especially the Soviet Union. With the collapse of communism, the ideology of many ANC economists, in fact many left-wing economists around the world, was in disarray. Therefore, it was difficult for them to counter the arguments of the corporate sector.

What happened after the ANC came to power?

Terreblanche states that the big debate of the early 1990s was whether South Africa should have redistribution through growth, as argued by the corporate sector, or growth through redistribution, as argued by the ANC up until it started losing the informal economic negotiations. Proponents of redistribution through growth argue that if the economy grows, the wealth of the poor will automatically grow too. Proponents of growth through redistribution argue that pro-poor government policies (e.g. a basic income grant or an HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention plan) are needed to give poor people a greater share of the available resources. This will lead to economic prosperity.

The ANC used the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), which promised to alleviate poverty, as its election platform in 1994. The RDP was based on the growth through redistribution philosophy. Terreblanche demonstrates that there was never any serious intention to make the RDP work. It was under-resourced and the new ANC government soon dropped it in favour of its current GEAR (footnote 2) policy. The emphasis in GEAR is on reducing government spending and keeping inflation down so as to promote growth. GEAR has not produced the intended results. Although free market economists, government and business often tell us that "economic fundamentals" are in good shape, growth has been very slow and the lack of government spending on social programmes has hurt the poor.

Terreblanche says there are a number of reasons why the ANC has maintained this route and why the corporate sector has not been restructured or held to account for its role in the Apartheid era.

What does Terreblanche recommend instead of Government's current approach?

The book explains the difference between the democratic capitalist model of the United States and United Kingdom, which Terreblanche argues puts too much faith in markets to solve social issues, and the social democratic models of many European countries, in which government has played an active role in uplifting the poor. Terreblanche describes that many modern societies operate in a system where there are balances between democracy, social welfare policies, the civil service, the corporate sector and unions. He argues that since 1973, the balance of power has swung too far towards the corporate sector in the industrialised world. This has had an influence on many developing countries like South Africa. Instead of following the more appropriate European model of social democracy, many developing countries are following the US/UK model. South Africa is no exception.

Terreblanche, unfortunately does not describe in enough detail precisely what he means by a social democratic system, or the challenges of implementing such a system. This is one of the book's shortcomings. He does say that this should include more social spending. He argues briefly for the basic income grant, public works programmes and redistribution taxes. But there is not enough detail on this.

The author argues that for a transformation to a social democratic society to take place, there has to be a change of ideology in South Africa's elite. This would include the reduction of white racism, corporate and black elite callousness, etc. For this to happen, civil society will have to become significantly stronger.

The Economic History of South Africa

Most of the remainder of the book examines how inequality became such a serious problem in South Africa. Professor Terblanche divides South African History into a number of periods. These are very briefly summarised here. These summaries are very incomplete and important facts are left out. It would be very worthwhile reading the whole book if one really wants to begin to understand the economic history of South Africa.

Dutch Colonisation 1652 - 1800


The Dutch, via the Dutch East India Company, began colonising the Cape in 1652. For the first few decades of colonisation, the primary conflict was between Dutch settlers and Khoisan over grazing land. As the settlers acquired more land, they needed more labour. Slaves were imported, originally from Angola but also from southeast Asia and other areas. By the time slavery was abolished in 1838, the slave population grew to 39,000. Some Khoisan were used as serfs (people who farm on a landlord's land, are not allowed to leave, and have to pay a large part of their produce as rent). Some Dutch settlers moved out of reach of the Cape Government. They were called Trekboere. Many Khoisan were killed by expeditions of Trekboere, known as Commandos. The most devastating effect on the Khoisan, however was the smallpox epidemic of 1713 which was caused by the virus spreading to the Cape on a fleet of ships and the Khoisan having very little resistance to the disease.

British Colonisation  1800 - 1890

The British took over the Cape in 1795 in order to protect their trade route with India from being harmed by the French. Britain was the world's superpower at the time and colonising foreign lands in order to protect or promote British commerce was critical to their power. The British abolished slavery. The reasons for this are complex and perhaps should be the subject of discussion in a leadership school meeting. But the British were much more effective than the Dutch at creating large numbers of  subjects. Slaves and serfs were badly treated under the Dutch, but the British created a far larger unfree black working class. Under the British numerous wars were fought against the Xhosa who were dispossessed of land and cattle. The final result of these wars is that many Xhosa people became labourers for whites in the Cape. Also the conflict between the British and Dutch lead to the Great Trek and the eventual colonisation by the Dutch of much of the rest of South Africa.

The British needed labour for agriculture and they also fought the Xhosa to expand the land of British settlers. The discovery of diamonds and later gold resulted in British capitalists wanting a very large number of low-paid labourers to work on the mines.

An example of British oppression was the Masters and Servants Ordinance of 1841. It allowed for very harsh punishments if servants (who were Khoisan, former slaves and Xhosa) broke their work contracts. This was the first of many such acts that remained in place until 1974!

Boer Republics 1850 - 1900


As a result of the Great Trek, the Dutch took over much of the rest of South Africa. They formed the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (later known as the Transvaal) and the Orange Free State. One of the reasons the Dutch moved out of the Cape was to escape British rule and continue using slaves and serfs. The desire for this unfree labour was largely due to the Dutch having too much land and too few labourers to work on it, as well as too little capital to implement the British style of colonisation (i.e. paid labourers as opposed to slaves).

The discovery of gold in the Transvaal lead to tension between the British and the Dutch. This tension was made worse by the British capitalists, such as Cecil John Rhodes, who owned the mines. They wanted cheap labour for the mines and the British government wanted to control the gold revenues. The mine owners were concerned that the Boer Republics would not put in place measures that assure their supply of cheap labour. The British were also in a race for colonies against the other major European countries and wanted to colonise anything in Africa not already colonised by the other major powers.

This tension resulted in the Anglo-Boer war in which 25,000 Boers and thousands of Africans (estimates differ, but 12,000 seems likely) died. The British eventually won the war and took control of the whole of South Africa. After the war, the British realised that unless they gave the Afrikaners political control, they would not be able to stabilise the country. Therefore, by 1910 political control had been handed back the Afrikaners by the English. However, the English business establishment remained very powerful.

Botha, Smuts and Herzog 1900 - 1948


During this period there were severe setbacks for African freedom. White English capitalists together with the Smuts government and Afrikaans workers pushed through laws that ensured the mines were well-supplied with cheap African labour or alternatively benefited Afrikaans workers at the expense of Africans. In the late 1800s and early 1900s many African families did well through farming (peasants). This worried the mine-owners because they needed Africans to be dependent on the mines in order to be able force them to accept lower wages. Many draconian measures were taken. The 1913 Land Act is a well-known example. This law was not only implemented to create cheap labour but to reduce competition with white farmers from Africans. It stopped Africans from owning land outside so-called native reserves. This meant that many Africans had to leave their farms and seek another way to make a living.  `working for white farmers or on the mines were often the only options.

The measures to keep African labour cheap were successful for a long time. Between 1910 and 1972, the real wages of Africans in mining and manufacturing did not increase, despite the growth of the economy as a whole.
Many Afrikaners also became low-earning labourers during this period. At first many could not compete with more efficient African farmers. Also, small farmers were unable to compete with big farmers. A large Afrikaans working class developed. There was also conflict between Afrikaans workers and the mine-owners. For example a very serious Afrikaans miners strike took place in 1922 which resulted in many deaths when Smuts used the airforce to suppress it with bombing. As a result of white worker pressure, laws that discriminated against black workers were passed such as the Mines and Works Amendment Act of 1923 and the Wage Act of 1925.

Apartheid 1948 - 1994


The Apartheid government intensified the racist laws governing South African society. They removed Coloureds from the voters roll, introduced pass laws, the Group Areas Act and many other laws discriminating against black people.

An important discussion in the book focuses on how big business benefited from and encouraged Apartheid, especially up to the early 1970s. The migrant labour and pass law systems whereby black workers had to travel far from home to work on the mines was enforced by Apartheid laws. The mining companies argued that they did not have to pay a living wage because African workers lived in reserves where their families supplied much of their own food needs.
In 1973, as part of a global economic crisis, the South African economy started declining. Until it became democratic, the country experienced growing unemployment and inflation. We live with this legacy of high unemployment today. There were many reasons for this. The struggle was intensified in the 1970s, leading to much instability. Many overseas companies disinvested from South Africa, especially in the 1980s when the ANC campaigned for sanctions. The system of cheap labour created for the mines became inefficient. There were too few skilled African workers and the Chamber of Mines started reducing workers by mechanising as much as possible. One of the reasons the Nationalist government started negotiating with the ANC, is because they realised it was becoming impossible to sustain a political system dominated by white racism.

Shortcomings of the Book


Terreblanche's book is very good, especially his analysis of the transition to a democratic South Africa and the current period. I am not qualified to comment on the quality of Terreblanche's historical analysis, but he seems to have paid much attention to details and his points are made clearly.  However, as with any complex work there are some problems. As already pointed out he does not discuss the social democratic system he favours in enough detail.

Another problem is that Terreblanche does not discuss the economic relations between blacks, especially Africans, in nearly enough detail. It is only by doing this that we can properly understand the development of the black middle-class and why it is so uncaring towards the poor. Such an analysis would probably require a whole new book though!

I might be wrong about my understanding of a point Terreblanche made in the book, but it seemed to me that he criticised the unions for exacerbating the unemployment problem by fighting for labour legislation too beneficial to workers. He seems to indicate that unionised workers have become an elite and do not serve the interests of the very poor unemployed. If he is saying this, it is an over-simplification. Before the new labour laws, South African companies treated workers terribly, as Terreblanche himself makes clear. The new labour laws address this. Also most union workers supply an income to a family. Many of the family members might be unemployed. The employed and the unemployed often live in the same families and income is shared. It is important that legislation protects these workers from being dismissed arbitrarily, which could often result in worsening the poverty of a whole family. Very few unionised workers are in an economic situation which could be called middle-class or elite.

Where to from here?


It would be useful if as part of the leadership school we discuss what is meant by social democracy. What major changes are needed to South Africa's economy to relieve poverty. What problems would be encountered if these changes were implemented? Most important for the near future, how can we change South African society so that these changes can be implemented?

Professor Terreblanche's book is a valuable guide to understanding why we are faced with the economic problems we have today and where we need to go to change this situation.   It is definitely worth reading.


[END OF TERREBLANCHE REVIEW]

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