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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
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.
[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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.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:
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.
[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
- It is extensively researched and will probably eventually be
recognised as one of the best economic histories of South Africa;
- It proposes a serious agenda for reducing inequality and poverty,
which TAC members need to give serious consideration;
- The book contains a detailed analysis of what has changed and
remained the same in terms of inequality and poverty since South Africa
became a democracy in 1994. This analysis criticises the way the ANC has
managed the economy. It argues that GEAR is an inappropriate economic
policy for South Africa.
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:
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%.
- high unemployment in an economy growing slowly;
- large inequalities in access to economic power, property and
opportunities (these inequalities largely follow racial lines);
- dysfunctional social structures and high levels of crime in most
- the combination of ill-health and exposure to violence and
criminal behaviour in poor communities.
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
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
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
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
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.
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) did not make it
part of its mandate to hold corporations responsible for their role in
human rights abuses or creating inequality and actively supporting
policies designed to keep blacks in poverty. They did this so as to
ensure a steady supply of cheap labour, especially for the mining
sector. Terreblanche argues that this was a great failure of the TRC. As
a result the corporate sector's image is undeservedly untarnished.
- One reason why the ANC has stuck to GEAR since 1994, despite the
failure of this policy to uplift the poor, is that a large black
middle-class has developed over the last few decades. The book estimates
that this class comprises 6 to 10 million people, a large part of which
constitute a wealthy African elite. Terreblanche has angry words for
the new black middle-class, accusing it of being uncaring and callous
about the needs of the poor. While such callousness has long been a
part of white culture, Terreblanche is surprised that this uncaring,
crass materialism has been embraced by the black middle-class. The
implication of the rise of the black middle-class, while poverty for
the poorest 40% has worsened (or at least not improved) is that social
class, as opposed to race, is becoming the divide between South
- The ineffectiveness of civil society organisations since 1994 has
contributed to the lack of delivery for the poor. Terreblanche is
hopeful that the rise of organisations campaigning around HIV/AIDS and
gay and lesbian rights signals the re-emergence of civil society. He is
concerned, however, that there is still not enough civil society
representation of poor people in South Africa.
What does Terreblanche recommend instead of Government's current
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
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
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
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
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]
[END OF NEWSLETTER]