Letters to the Editor: August 5

Mail & Guardian readers share their thoughts on the SACP, Sactwu, Zwelinzima Vavi and more.

Vavi must lead the SACP
A toothless dog barks the loudest to scare intruders, but once they realise it cannot bite they just come in. Today’s South African Communist Party is a toothless dog that cannot fight corruption and exploitation (”The strident tune of a one-man band”, July 29).

The capitalist class fears Julius Malema more than it fears the SACP, yet the SACP and Malema are two sides of the same coin.
Malema and SACP leader Blade Nzimande were fellow comrades when they put Jacob Zuma in power, but today they are official opponents in the battle for Mangaung.

Since Nzimande was rewarded with a lucrative position in Cabinet he has become a toothless dog—to the extent that he could defend the relationship between the Guptas and Duduzane Zuma.

The SACP has had its members co-opted into government and that has tamed them. These include yesteryear’s hardliners—Nzimande, Yunus Carrim, Ebrahim Patel, Rob Davies, Ayanda Dlodlo, Thulas Nxesi, Jeremy Cronin and Buti Manamela (who has assigned himself the task of countering Malema). Nzimande surprised many when he defied Zuma and bought a luxurious BMW for R1-million.

There have been reports that the SACP members who serve in the Zuma Cabinet support him for a second term and Cosatu’s Zwelinzima Vavi has accused them of protecting their positions. There is truth in that, because none of these communists are now seen addressing or supporting strikes or public protector Thuli Madonsela. Instead, they bash the already discredited Malema.

We, the youth, will support Vavi to become secretary general of the SACP.

When Nzimande wanted to be in the Cabinet he supported Zuma by attacking Thabo Mbeki, who had frustrated his ministerial ambitions between 1994 and 2007. It was Nzimande who allowed the spread of innuendos that Mbeki knew about the assassination of Chris Hani.

We are also concerned that, unlike Moses Kotane, Moses Mabhida, Joe Slovo, Hani and Charles Nqakula, Nzimande purges people opposed to his views, such as Nqakula, Mazibuko Jara, David Masondo and Jabu Moleketi.

We want Vavi because he is going to be a communist who barks and bites the corruption that characterises the Zuma administration.—Pinky Sindiswa Mavundla, Margate

Thinly clad union bash
Your spread on Newcastle, the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union and the clothing industry in the Mail & Guardian of 22 July refers.

When we first read the articles in your spread on the clothing industry (”High wages unravel Newcastle’s industry”, July 22), they caused some concern. But it soon became abundantly clear that most of the articles were fraught with misrepresentation, inaccuracy and an ideological bias towards employers.

What is positioned as cutting-edge journalism appears to us to be nothing but a hatchet job on the union, where the position of business is presented as uncontested truth. In the end, as my colleagues and I continued to read the spread, we could not help but laugh at its obvious anti-trade union, anti-worker intent.

The articles contain many factual inaccuracies and false claims. For instance, to suggest the union has not played a role in job creation in the industry is wrong.

When 15 000 jobs in the country’s biggest clothing and textile manufacturer, Seardel, were on the line, Sactwu stepped in with R200-million of its own money to save the company from collapsing when no capitalist was prepared to do so.

Moreover, Sactwu recently re-opened a clothing maker that had closed down in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal. In this factory we are providing decent work for 90 people in one of the poorest areas of the country.

There are many other such inaccuracies. But we have opted not to reply to each, because it is abundantly clear that the intention of the articles was to advance the anti-union, anti-bargaining council agenda of those who want to continue to exploit workers.—Bonita Loubser, Sactwu

Vavi running Cosatu for personal benefit
In every conflict or challenge facing Cosatu there is one common denominator—Zwelinzima Vavi. Vavi was very vocal about the stifling of dissenting views within the ANC, but he is also an autocrat who runs Cosatu as a personal fiefdom.

The reported tension between him and his president, S’dumo Dlamini, were bound to come to the fore (”Cosatu’s top leaders slug it out”, July 29).

It is time that the two million members of Cosatu asked themselves whether Vavi is still serving the federation’s interests or his own.

At the conclusion of Cosatu’s last congress he announced that he was not going to be available for re-election because he was moving to the ANC. Upon seeing that it was not going to be easy to be elected to an ANC leadership position because he had made a lot of enemies, he withdrew the announcement.—Phindile Ngwenya, Nelspruit

Poverty is imposed, upliftment is self-created
The article by Songezo Zibi (”Nonracialism and the untouchables”, July 22) was serious and well argued. My problem with African leaders in general and South African leaders in particular—both in the public and private sectors—is their inability to make use of the vast body of knowledge offered by young thinkers such as Zibi and Yonela Diko.

In my analysis poverty is manufactured. Otherwise we would not have all this wealth alongside grinding poverty. Ordinary people, or members of the working class, must understand the difference between the dynamics of power (the pursuit of personal prestige) and genuine concern for the upliftment of poor people. Only when the intelligentsia empowers the impoverished with the correct information will these people be able to extricate themselves from of a life of poverty and hopelessness.

I do not deny the historical reality of black poverty. But poor black people cannot sit and wait for a miracle to happen to lift them out of their wretched situation. They must tirelessly work towards self-improvement by investing in economic self-determination.

An incorruptible intelligentsia in their communities must be in the forefront of such new struggles. It can happen. The success of African-Americans in the United States is a case in point. People can change their conditions - the only thing they need is genuine political leadership with impeccable moral attributes.—Vusumzi Nobadula, Cape Town

Gender article should be framed
Sisonke Msimang’s piece “True leadership has no gender” (July 29) is one of the most important articles I have read in the local media about gender appointments. The tenets expressed apply likewise to appointment preferences given to black people or the disabled. Equity may the driving force for affirmative action or black economic empowerment, but the exercise of equity is a privilege for the recipient. Leadership of an organisation has to be earned.

The most crucial thing Msimang says is: “You do not become a leader by virtue of the position you occupy, you become a leader because those you work with for a common cause give permission to lead.”

Her dreams of turning the organisation into “a gender experiment” gave way to a more realistic set of goals: to build an institution in which hard work, integrity and authenticity are embodied by a team of women and men committed to a more transparent and accountable region.

Msimang understands that she employs adults. Adults take full responsibility for their employment. An environment that tries too hard to accommodate gender, race or disability (other than in ways that are necessary to work effectively and fairly) will become inefficient and leadership will founder on the rocks of distraction.

Msimang’s article should be framed. Every government institution that has pictures of the president, the deputy president, the relevant minister and the relevant director general in its offices should take them down and replace them with a framed copy of Msimang’s article. Whatever the reasons for being employed, being hired is a privilege. Respect is earned.—SC Weiss, Johannesburg

Get off the bridal train
In response to Nikiwe Bikitsha (”Sting in the fairy tale”, July 22), isn’t it time that aspiring royal brides stopped dragging behind them the Armani left-overs the designer forgot to snip off? Armani is probably chuckling to himself: “The longer the better and all the more stressful for the wearer.”

No wonder Charlene Wittstock was about to burst into tears, having to tug that enormous bit of extraneous material behind her like a mule. What a denigrating sight!

Being a champion swimmer probably gave her the edge on most other aspirational subjects, though. One hopes she was assured that the burden she had to drag behind her was fire-proof so she didn’t go up in a puff of smoke, although this might have been what the sobbing at the end was all about.

Isn’t it time that these privileged women who are dying to become royalty threw off the traditional attire and burst out in their miniskirts next to their uniformed husbands-to-be?—“Umbrage”, Harare

Festival let us down
Shaun de Waal waxes on about the Durban International Film Festival (”Durban film festival doesn’t put a foot wrong”, Friday, July 29) but, as a recognised film critic, he probably did not have to endure the nightmare of booking for a number of films.

We studied the programme carefully two weeks earlier and then climbed on the phone as soon as “booking opened”.

First, one of the booking numbers was not operative, then the operator at the Centre for the Creative Arts suggested we go to the cinemas to book because there had been many problems. So, instead of enjoying at least six films, we had to settle for one.

In that regard the festival fell way below the standard one would expect. Perhaps its management could comment.—Tony Ball, Durban

— and so did De Waal
Although Shaun de Waal’s “Not the movie of the week” review of Mel Gibson’s movie The Beaver is appropriate, I believe the editor missed a chance to direct De Waal to be explicit in telling the truth without bias or prejudice, as the M&G does about Julius Malema’s entertaining rants.

Gibson is not only “anti-Semitic”, as De Waal states, he is also a bigot and a racist woman-abuser. His famously recorded and published racist rants at his Russian wife were not only about Jews but also about “niggers” who are “rapists”.

De Waal’s selective narration has apartheid tendencies and shows the need for a media tribunal.

Protectors or supporters of racists such as De Waal are no different to Nazi collaborators. The adage that says “scratch a liberal’s veneer and you will find a redneck” hits the bull’s eye!

White people all have apartheid amnesia. They forget they all benefited from this vile system. Clearly, this amnesia has become equally calcified in De Waal’s selective racist memory. Anyway, I may be just a ranting darkie.—Joseph Shaka Nkadimeng

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