Colors: Blue Color

A landmark set of measures to support international efforts in tackling corruption has been launched by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks are designed to help governments and public sector organisations assess laws, procedures and actions against international good practice and make improvements if needed. United Nations figures indicate that corruption costs the global economy $3.6 trillion each year. Global proceeds from criminal activities are estimated at between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion per year.

The amount of money lost globally through corruption is equal to the total amount needed to successfully implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In development since 2018, the new benchmarks offer a comprehensive roadmap to reduce corruption across 25 areas of public and commercial life.

Among the wide range of topics covered are corruption offences, investigation and prosecution, the court system, parliament, political elections and funding, public officials, procurement, management controls, and transparency to the public. The benchmarks also include mechanisms for engaging and mobilising the public and private sectors in educating, reporting and providing independent support and oversight.

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, said: “Throughout the world, including in member countries of the Commonwealth, corruption continues to undermine social and economic development and have immensely damaging consequences, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable of people and communities.

“Our Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks are a robust set of recommendations and good practices brought together as an interlocking identification, prevention and reporting system designed significantly to reduce the risk of corruption in the public and private sectors.

“The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks package is a landmark initiative, unrivalled in scope and ambition, which I firmly believe provides a basis for transformational action in the Commonwealth and more widely towards ending the destructive scourge of corruption in all its forms.” Designed to be achievable, practical and auditable, this set of measures provides a holistic system that aims to reduce and deal with the risk of corruption.

The benchmarks promote honesty, impartiality, accountability, and transparency and provide for specific anti-corruption measures. In cases where there may be no recognised international good practice, the benchmarks propose  good practice measures.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform has worked in partnership with the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to develop the benchmarks. There has also been wide consultation with the African Union, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Commonwealth law ministries, anti-corruption agencies and Commonwealth partner organisations.

Neill Stansbury, Director of GIACC, and one of the authors of the benchmarks, said: “Corruption causes enormous damage in developed and developing countries, and primarily impacts on the poor.

“While preventive action must be taken by both the public and private sectors, it is incumbent on governments and the public sector to provide the legal, regulatory and enforcement environment which ​enables and ensures a corruption-free society. The benchmarks are designed to assist governments and the public sector achieve this​ objective.”   

Christopher Alder, Global Director of Regulation at RICS, said: “These benchmarks represent a step-change in the co-ordination and integration of anti-corruption mechanisms - mechanisms which connect public, commercial, professional and legal enforcement expertise.

“Taken together the mechanisms provide a framework for these ‘communities’ to co-ordinate their activities to support proactive and, if necessary, punitive action. Creating a framework through which these communities, their interests and responsibilities integrate leverages their collective power to transform the way that international and Commonwealth countries fight corruption.

“Ultimately, this collective power can protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our societies whilst building a future free of corruption.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) have urged African countries not to destroy Covid-19 vaccines that have expired.

The call comes after Malawi and South Sudan said they would discard more than 70,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab that were out of date

"Our advice would be that countries should ensure that they store the vaccines safely as we continue to study and try to get definitive advise on whether the vaccines can be used for longer," the WHO's Africa regional director Matshidiso Moeti said.

The Africa CDC says it has spoken to the manufacturer, Serum Institute of India (SII), and has been reassured that the vaccines are still safe.

"The vaccine landscape is extremely challenging and the advise we got from SII is that the vaccines can still be used even after nine months," John Nkegasong, the head of Africa CDC said.

Many vaccines can be used up to 36 months after manufacture, but because Covid-19 jabs are so new, there is not enough data to prove their effectiveness over longer periods.

Whatever the guidance, the final decision rests with national drug regulators.

However, the issue will further increase the challenges around persuading people on the continent to get vaccinated.

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in Africa has been slow, partly because of supply issues and scepticism about the jab.

Out of 55 African countries, 41 have benefitted from the delivery of vaccines via the global-sharing scheme Covax. Seven are yet to receive their first batch.

A US federal investigation has been launched into policing practices in the city of Minneapolis, a day after one of its former officers was convicted of the murder of George Floyd. The justice department will look at whether there has been a pattern "of unconstitutional or unlawful policing", Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

It follows national outrage over the killing of Mr Floyd by Derek Chauvin. The former officer was convicted of all charges against him on Tuesday.

Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest in May 2020. Mr Floyd, an unarmed African American, was pronounced dead an hour later. His death sparked protests across the US and worldwide, and calls for police reform.

Tuesday's verdict has been widely welcomed in a country where police are rarely convicted - if they are charged at all - over deaths which occur in custody. But Mr Garland told reporters that he knew the verdict would not "address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis".

The attorney general said the investigation would "include a comprehensive review of the Minneapolis Police Department's policies, training, supervision and use-of-force investigations." It will also examine "whether its treatment of those with behavioural health disabilities is unlawful", while looking at the "effectiveness of current systems of accountability and whether other mechanisms are needed to ensure constitutional and lawful policing."

Mr Garland said both the community and law enforcement would have to take part if the investigation were to be a success, and he had already started reaching out to both. If unlawful patterns or practices were found, he promised to issue a public report and bring a civil lawsuit.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is an ANC NEC member. She delivered this speech at the Chris Hani Memorial Lecture, to the Young Communist League of the University of Witwatersrand, on Saturday. The event was held under the theme ’Saving the soul of the ANC from the claws of factionalism and neo-liberal policies’.

We wish to thank the Young Communist League’s Shimi Matlala Branch for the invitation to address this Chris Hani Memorial Lecture. We also thank you for tackling such a challenging topic, it shows you care deeply about the movement and the future of this country. I am sure that comrade Chris Hani would be proud! Daunting as it is, we shall attempt to address the topic of “saving the soul of the ANC from the claws of factionalism and neo liberal policies” by utilising the canvas and essence of our movement, as well as comrade Chris Thembisile Hani and other revolutionaries.

We also thank you for the warm reception we have received from the student body and teaching staff. We have been struck by the vibrancy, diversity and the leadership this campus has provided to the discourse in our country. More especially, as it relates to the question of access to education and equality, which we shall return to in this talk.

We were also pleasantly struck by our sight of the plaque in honour of Dr Mary Malahlela Xakana, the first black female medical doctor who qualified here at Wits in 1947.

That our past, present and future are coincided by Dr Malahlela Xakana, Chris Hani and Comrade Shimi is not a mere coincidence because these heroes are authentic products of our revolution. What is most outstanding is that they were all products of the Struggle, shaped by their environment and driven by a deep sense of love for the people.

It was Che Guevara who once said “at the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality”.

Comrade Chris was first and foremost guided by love. Every single soldier and worker in the camps, and wherever he worked or resided, was well-known to comrade Chris, he would even remember where each of them came from and would inquire on the health of their family members, mentioning their names.

Born and raised in the rural village of Sabalele in Cofimvaba, son of a migrant worker and hawker, his reality shaped his revolutionary spirit. Thus taking up the Struggle for the downtrodden and workers was not a mere coincidence, but a result of his lived experience.

Commenting on his family structure to Dr Lilli Callinicos in 1993, in one of his last interviews, he says: “A family was lucky to have the whole offspring surviving. If 50% survived, that was an achievement, so out of six, three of us survived … ”

Thus there also lies another feature we can emulate from comrade Chris – the love for family. Often times, when we theorise about revolutionaries and societal transformation, we overlook the role of the family. Yet this is the most basic unit of society, by which both the suffering masses and thriving capitalists survive.

Capitalism, in its essence, also survives on individualism and the progress of the self. Comrades, it therefore holds to logic that the pursuit of social justice and, dare we say, socialism ought to be about transforming societal relations by strengthening that basic unit. In so doing, we must also transform the ownership patterns of the economy and the means of production.

To quote comrade Chris: “As long as the economy is dominated by an unelected, privileged few, the case for socialism will exist”.

He goes on to say: “Socialism is not about big concepts and heavy theory. Socialism is about decent shelter for those who are homeless. It is about water for those who have no safe drinking water. It is about health care, it is about a life of dignity for the old. It is about overcoming the huge divide between urban and rural areas. It is about a decent education for all our people. Socialism is about rolling back the tyranny of the market … ”

Indeed, despite the gains recorded by the developmental democratic state, the tyranny of the market has gained gravitas. This fact was also noted by the outcomes of our 54th conference, which noted that: “Despite the economic advances of the past 23 years of freedom and democracy, the legacy of colonialism and apartheid is still deeply entrenched in our society, and in the structure of the South African economy”.

The conference went on to note that “this legacy expresses itself in racialised patterns of poverty, inequality and unemployment, in land and spatial disparities, in infrastructure and service backlogs, in concentrated structures of ownership and control and in the weaknesses of the SMME and cooperatives sector.”

The striking feature of our economy today, as expressed by the Forbes top ten list, tells us:

  • First, 9 of the 10 are white
  • Second, none of them are women
  • Third, the 10 individuals account for 7,1% of our wealth, and
  • Finally, according to Oxfam, the wealthiest 1% of South Africans own 70% of our wealth, whereas the bottom 60% only control 7% of the country’s assets.

Comrades, we should not be comfortable with this glaring failure of the economic system. It is also important to recall that our revolution is based on the strategic mission to liberate our country and continent from the systems of apartheid and colonialism.

It is because of this strategic objective, that the ANC and the broader liberation forces, the alliance – including the Communist Party, as well as the women’s movement and other organisations – achieved the historic breakthrough of 1994, through its high and lows. Despite these highs and lows our movement consistently ensured that it was never deterred from this objective and it never succumbed to the challenges it faced from time to time – whether as a result of the conditions beyond its control, actions of the regime or its own internal weaknesses.

Despite the difficulties, the movement – because of its commitment to principle and to uniting the people in action, to finding sustainable solutions – was able to renew itself, its tactics, its policies, and its leadership and cadreship.

Part of the problem we are facing is the factionalism that tears us apart and defocuses us. As a result, we run the risk of losing our revolutionary discipline and political consciousness. We must not allow this factionalism to prevail.

Comrades, the call for unity by our 54th conference should not be interpreted as a mere call, but a revolutionary act. It is a firm belief that only a united ANC and alliance can fulfil the dreams and aspirations of our people, towards democratic and developmental outcomes. We ought to pause and introspect whether we remain on course? If not, we must go back to Lenin and answer the big question of “what is to be done”.

Indeed comrades, as alluded by the title of this event, the demon of factionalism has slowly been creeping and destroying the essence of the ANC.

The ANC has never made decisions based on the views of a particular group (faction), democratic centralism is about respecting the views of others in a debate. We have always made decisions based on the interests of the motive forces, the interests of women, youth, workers, etc.

So much so that the 54th conference noted that factionalism has resulted in “a loss of confidence in the ANC … social distance, corruption, nepotism, arrogance, elitism, manipulating organisational processes … [and] abusing state power … ”

Dare we unmask the source of this factionalism? And, as we do so, let us once again recall the words comrade Mark Shope, would say after a political lecture: “I am teaching you politics today, comrades, so that you can use it against me one day when I deviate from the policies of the ANC.”

In our view, factionalism is a gross deviation from ANC policies and is rooted in the promotion of self-interest and careerism above the interest of the people. It is also a self-preservation agenda that sees self above all. That agenda is contradictory to Marxist philosophy, which dictates that “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

It is also driven by counter-revolutionary tendencies, which are rooted in maintaining the status quo at the least or returning to the old ways at best. Indeed, comrade Chris’ nightmare has come to fruition wherein he had said: “What I fear is that the liberators emerge as elitists, who drive around in Mercedes-Benzes and use the resources of this country … to live in palaces and to gather riches”.

Thus, we must ask what is our relationship with our people, are our cadres still embedded amongst the people? Are they living the values of our movement? We shall leave these questions to the discussion segment.

But we must say that these factional tendencies are also supported by a counter-revolutionary intelligentsia, which is the opposite of the intelligentsia anticipated by comrade Chris who once called for “an intelligentsia which is selfless, which is not just concerned about making money, creating a comfortable situation for themselves, but an intelligentsia which has lots of time for the Struggle of the oppressed people”.

You, as young people, must also never allow yourselves to be used for any factional reasons.

Comrades, to recall comrade OR Tambo’s final speech at the 47th congress as President of the ANC, when he said: “Before I sit down, I wish to make a few observations: we did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times. We were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them. Above all, we succeeded to foster and defend the unity of the ANC and the unity of our people in general. Even in bleak moments, we were never in doubt regarding the winning of freedom. We have never been in doubt that the people’s cause shall triumph.”

Indeed, as comrade OR said, we have faced difficult times but we made sure that we put the interest of the people first, in order to advance and ultimately win the struggle for freedom. Such a time we now face again.

Let us also recall that, in 1991, when comrade OR handed over our movement, we began to navigate our existence in a different and complex environment. We went from operating underground, in exile and within the mass democratic movement since, to becoming a mass legal organisation, opening up our membership in 1990.

In the changing terrain of the early 1990s, we had to rebuild the ANC as a mass legal organisation, engage in negotiations, prepare for governance and elections, and defend the people against third forces and state violence. Although there were challenges, the movement navigated this difficult terrain through focused, serving, disciplined and principled leadership.

We had to maintain commitment, disciplined and an active cadreship from different generations, whilst balancing that with a culture of engagement, democracy and robust debate, premised on a strategy and tactics directed at unity in action. Consequently, the democratic breakthrough of 1994, though a negotiated settlement with compromises, provided a beachhead to advance our strategic objective of this era, which ultimately defined as the creation of a National Democratic Society.

Comrades, It is impossible to build this society without a united and renewed organisation. Thus the renewal of our organisation occupies a mantlepiece of our total liberation. Thus we must pay attention to political education, campaigns, community work and cadre development which necessitates a skills revolution, as well as discipline. In the words of comrade Mark Shope: “A soldier without politics is a mercenary.”

Is it not time to ask ourselves, what is an ANC cadre without politics, and how do we address this situation?

I think this is especially important to note because, even as leaders, we can go wrong from time to time. However, it is our political understanding that gives us the ability to self-correct. That is why cadre development is a core of our activities. It must be undertaken on a continuous basis for all comrades, in all structures, from branch level all the way up to the most senior levels.

According to our cadre policy, ANC cadres are required to:

  • have revolutionary consciousness and discipline,
  • commitment to serve and love for the people,
  • be dedicated and humble,
  • committed to self-improvement, their understanding of their tasks,
  • of our struggle, the motive forces,
  • as well as national and gender consciousness.
  • Moreover, ANC cadres must be committed to democracy, and collective processes.

On the occasion of the centenary celebration of the ANC in 2012, we declared the Decade of the Cadre, and committed to revitalise all aspects of our Cadre Policy – recruitment, cadre development, deployment and accountability, as well as cadre preservation.

We thus said, that in addition to the above attributes, we must build, develop and retain, ANC cadres who are ideologically rooted and schooled in ANC and progressive politics. However these comrades also have the responsibility to skill themselves and be competent to undertake assigned tasks with discipline, and high ethics. They must be conscientious and committed to continuous self-improvement.

Comrades, our cadre policy and our strategic objective also requires from the ANC to be rooted amongst the motive forces, to organise and participate in their issues, and to act in the interest of the motive forces.

This, therefore, includes continually sharpening our understanding of the motive forces, the objective and subjective changes within the motive forces, and the impact of our policies and actions on these forces.

We must ask the question whether our characterisation of the motive forces remains relevant and whether they still see the ANC as the vehicle that will transform their lives for the better? The majority are women and youth. Have we sufficiently addressed the plight of women and the challenges that are faced by young people, including their socialisation as citizens of a non-racial, non-sexist democracy, committed to shared prosperity?

What is our relationship with our people, are our cadres still embedded amongst the people, while living the values of our movement? What is causing a rift and waning influence of the ANC among our people?

Comrades, part of the attributes of a cadre, is the ability to find your bearings independently, to be conscious of the tasks of the moment and in your sector in order to advance transformation. You must be hard-working. This requires the tools to assess the balance of forces and how to shift it, in order to respond to the needs of the people.

At the time of the transition, it was clear that the balance of forces were not entirely in our favour. As a result, we had to work on consolidating and fostering cohesion and unity in society in order to safeguard our hard-earned freedom.

The ANC, from its inception, has never been an organisation that has opted for violence and loss of life of its people. It was only when the apartheid government banned all our organisations and consistently responded with violence towards our people that we had no option but to turn to armed Struggle.

In President Tambo’s words “Operating within the logic of the armed struggle – armed and political – and supported by the international community, we managed to push the enemy into a crisis which could not be resolved within the confines of the old order. For the first time, possibilities to end apartheid and national oppression through negotiations were created. As a result of Struggle, the closed door that our late President, Chief AJ Luthuli, knocked on for many decades was finally opened. It is our responsibility and destiny to seize this opportunity.”

We did well comrades, in order to bring back dignity to our people and to bring about the will of the people and the right to self-determination. We also successfully navigated out of the transitional phase and established a non-racial and non-sexist government to further our revolution. We knew then that our Struggle was not over and that we would need to ensure that we build on our gains and transform our institutions and the economy. As a result of the negotiated settlement, we needed to consolidate our political power in order to utilise it to begin the radical transformation of our society.

In the 2004, national elections the ANC managed to consolidate a decisive victory of 69.7% of the vote and was able to garner a two third majority in Parliament. In retrospect, we must admit that we did not reflect deeply enough on the balance of forces . This lack of appreciation of the balance of forces meant that we equally did not shift gears from fostering political stability to advancing socio-economic transformation of our country.

In 2004, the political climate and the economic environment, the balance of forces had shifted in our favour. We needed to have used our political hegemony and influence to really transform the economy and our society.

We dare not continue to allow crippling fiscal austerity, export oriented production and privatisation of public sector services and succumbing to the pressure and influence of neoliberal forces that bombarded us with threats of disinvestments, rating agencies and the decline of the rand, and pushed us to limit our mission of transforming our economy. They used their institutions to scare us into pursuing policy directions that will ensure that, by and large, the economic status quo remains the same.

Comrades, Twenty-seven years later, we find ourselves facing very serious difficulties.

* Our National Democratic Revolution is threatened and, as a movement, we are at a low point. Our electoral performance is on the decline, with our support in the 2016 Local elections declining to below 55%,

* The economic situation is not favourable – unemployment, poverty and inequality remain unacceptably high, we have had pedestrian growth for a number of years now and, increasingly, our people are becoming disillusioned at our ability to deliver the National Democratic Society.

* Since the dawn of our democracy, we have had groups splitting from the organisation. There was UDM, COPE and then the EFF. If you look at each of these cases, at the core of the problem has been ill-discipline.

* As the ANC, we are not producing and maintaining the quality of cadre that is expected by a progressive revolutionary movement, and it is evident in the rampant ill-discipline that has been creeping up, which has now become pervasive.

* The challenges include not only the ANC, but the alliance as a whole, as well as other structures of the MDM.

* The fracturing and disunity of our movement creates a vacuum, which is being filled by opportunistic elements in our society. Ill-discipline, factionalism and divisions are, therefore, tearing us apart and we need to focus categorically on cadre development and utilising the confidence our people show in us through the ballot to advance our revolution.

Comrades, consequently, the activist of today has the added responsibility to contribute to the radical transformation of our economy. During a lecture similar to this in 2003, comrade Pallo Jordan pointed out that: “No one, not even the most optimistic among the early communists, did not appreciate that these revolutions would be bourgeois democratic in character … there has been an unfortunate tendency among some in our movement to counter-pose the national democratic and the socialist revolution. From its inception, Marxism, as understood by its founders, has regarded these two as parts of a continuum, at times anticipating that the democratic revolution would grow into the socialist revolution, at others, that the political revolution would evolve into a social revolution.”

Thus, the young communist and aspirant socialist has an even greater responsibility.

As argued by Marx and Engels, they have a special role “ ... on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions and the ultimate general result of the proletarian movement.”

We must, therefore, be inspired by the words of comrade Chris, who explained his affinity towards socialism by saying: “Given my background, I was attracted by ideas and the philosophy which had a bias towards the working class; which had as its stated objective the upliftment of the people on the ground.“

He continues to say: “I didn't get involved with the workers' Struggle out of theory alone. It was a combination of theory and my own class background. I never faltered in my belief in socialism, despite all the problems currently. For me, that belief is strong because that is still the life of the majority of the people with whom I share a common background.”

Here, comrade Chris lays the line of march anticipated by Marx and Engels. In the words of Che Patria o Muerte (homeland or death). Thus, according to comrade Chris, that line of march is whatever it is we do we must do in the service of the people. For him “the homeland is humanity!!” as said Jose Marti. Consequently, Che concludes that the revolutionary has the “task of educating and feeding youngsters ... educating the army … distributing the lands … without receiving its benefits”.

This can only be achieved through an integrated, developmental and community-based approach, thus our added emphasis on cooperatives. In this regard, Che concludes that: “The peasant must always be helped technically, economically, morally, and culturally. The guerrilla fighter will be a sort of guiding angel who has fallen into the zone, helping the poor always and bothering the rich as little as possible in the first phases of the war.”

Thus, the SACP’s Discussion Document titled “building cooperatives as a concrete expression of building people’s power in the economy”, is instructive. The paper also notes that “cooperatives, existing by themselves within capitalist economies and isolated from the tactical and strategic framework of progressive forces, are doomed to either degenerate or collapse.”

It further asserts that “However, this does not mean that cooperatives are not viable and cannot be a part of a wider strategic response to transcending capitalism.” Indeed this is in line with the thinking of comrade Chris and Che.

For Hani: “What is important is the continuation of the Struggle and we must accept that the Struggle is always continuing under different conditions, whether within Parliament or outside Parliament. We shall begin to tackle the real problems of the country … for social upliftment of the working masses of our people”.

Similarly, Che observes that “isolated individual endeavour, for all its purity of ideals, is of no use, and the desire to sacrifice an entire lifetime to the noblest of ideals serves no purpose if one works alone, solitarily, in some corner … fighting against adverse governments and social conditions which prevent progress. To create a revolution, one must undertake the mobilisation of a whole people, who must learn … the value of unity.”

So what must be done? We must, therefore, de-concentrate economic and work opportunities away from the state, at least at local level. For so long as the rural child, in Winnie Madikizela Mandela Municipality in the Eastern Cape, only sees the municipal manager or the mayor as the most successful person in the area, then service of self will thrive. We must create economic opportunities, where the people live as anticipated by the RDP. To facilitate for this and also inculcate the culture of long-term planning, we are currently implementing the District Development Model.

Through the model, we intend to facilitate for Local Economic Development, whilst solving the coordination conundrum which has been defined by vertical and horizontal silo mentality. This mentality has, amongst others, resulted in substandard implementation. To solve this, we are implementing the District Development Model. The model employs joint planning, implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluation. The district is seen as the landing strip, around which capacity and investment can be “crowded in” to support local economic development and the full array of services including health.

We must also drive our transformation agenda and embark on a selective industrialisation process, which prioritises:

(1) The infrastructure sector. By building our social and economic infrastructure, which in the transport sector must prioritise the building of buses, trains, rural roads and maritime transportation. We ought to have a fast rail network to link our cities with the continent. This will also require that we fix our parastatals such as Eskom, whilst also facilitating for wall-to-wall energy and ICT infrastructure. We must also build and maintain our water and sanitation. We can direct where investment should go, whilst at the same time providing jobs and skills for our people.

(2) It is inconceivable that, in the near future, humans will be able to live without food. Thus, agriculture will remain cardinal in our economy, we must just ensure that we fully explore that value chain up to Agro-processing and beyond the logistics that support it. This will require that we grow our own food, meat and capture the entire value chain of agriculture. We will need to employ innovation through vertical agriculture.

(3) Closely related to this is the Blue Oceans Economy, which strategically favours South Africa, with two oceans and vast experience. We must develop all the relevant skills, which include oceanographers, marine biologists and all the areas of the maritime economy, which spreads from logistics to humanities, including floating and coastal tourism.

(4) South Africa is favoured by some of the most diverse flora and fauna, which can work to our advantage, so long as we invest in the labour intensive tourism sector.

(5) South Africa has the most developed manufacturing sector on the continent, which sector can facilitate for the development of the four sectors we have highlighted above.

(6) All of these will require financing, thus, the importance of transforming our financial sector. There is no reason why, in localising economic development, we cannot think of cooperative banks and well as municipal banks. The type of budgets and complexity of programmes, run by major cities like Johannesburg and eThekwini, justify for such a bank.

(7) In accelerating our development, we will also need sustainable energy generation, as well as the employ of creativity and innovation. Thus, the broad creative sector is an important and supportive growth point.

To successfully deliver on this path, we will require a capacitated public service and a patriotic private sector. We will also require that we locate the appropriate skills throughout the bureaucracy and in the localities we intend developing. Thus, the backbone of our model is the skills revolution, as we will require appropriately motivated and orientated professionals in the various fields of need, including engineers, oceanographers, cultural workers, film producers and so on.

Comrades, thus we support the call for a decolonised and accessible education. First, because we believe education to be a right and not a privilege. However, you must remember that with every right comes a responsibility. Thus, as we extend that right, you must remember your obligations to the service of humanity and country. Thus our education system must transform and align to the aspiration of the “Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened” in the Freedom Charter.

This clause anticipated four interrelated fundamentals, amongst others, that:

1. “The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life;

2. The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace;

3. Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children; and

4. Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit.”

Therefore, we should, in fact, not be having any debate on free education and its decolonisation, but rather on what the progressive steps towards it will be, given our limited resources. After all, it was Chris Hani who attested to the fact that education was the single most important thing that conscientised him and opened the world to him the “world of knowing how to write the alphabet, how to count…”

Indeed, the world over is in abundance of research that proves education as the most important equaliser by which we can break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, inequality and want.

Comrades, this generation sits at the crossroads in the life of our once glorious movement. You sit on the foothill of what could be an era when our country reaches its full potential. This phase of our revolution is perhaps most testing, as the enemy is now unseen and operates amongst us, persuading some to abandon the revolutionary spirit of the congress movement. However, as you enter into battle, remember what comrade Che said: “The revolution is made by man [or woman], but man [or woman] must forge his [or her] revolutionary spirit from day to day”. Above all, remain brave, for comrade Chris was one of the bravest amongst all of us.

For those in the Young Communist League, remember Engels’ letter to Adophe Sorge, the day after Marx’s death, wherein he says: “The Struggle of the proletariat continues. That victory is certain. Well, we must see it through. What else are we here for? And we have not lost courage yet.” Comrade Chris was courageous, this next phase of our revolution requires brave and courageous women and men.


Aluta Continua!

With the royals set to comply with COVID regulations - like other families across Britain - limiting numbers at St George's Chapel, in Windsor Castle, HM Queen Elizabeth II will say goodbye to her husband of 73 years Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, during a service with just 30 close family members, with Prince William and Prince Harry to be among those walking behind their grandfather's coffin.

However, they will be separated by cousin Peter Phillips as the Queen moves to supress simmering tensions between the following the bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview. Breaking a centuries old royal tradition, the family will be dressed in morning suits, rather than military uniform. Prince Andrew had reportedly demanded to wear an Admirals uniform, despite having stepped back from public duties before being promoted to the rank, while Prince Harry was set to be the only one in civilian dress having quit royal duties.

There will also be a military procession as people turn on their television to watch the service. The funeral service itself will begin at 15.00GMT.

A Buckingham Palace statement said: "Ahead of the funeral service, the coffin, covered with His Royal Highness's Personal Standard and surmounted with his Sword, Naval Cap and a wreath of flowers, will be moved privately from its present location in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle to the Inner Hall of Windsor Castle.

"After prayers are said by the Dean of Windsor in the Inner Hall, the Coffin will be
carried to the State Entrance by a Bearer Party found by The Queen's Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

"The Bearer Party will then place His Royal Highness's Coffin on a purpose-built Land Rover.

"The Queen will depart from the Sovereign's Entrance in the State Bentley and join the rear of the Procession in the Quadrangle. At 1445hrs the procession steps off to St George's Chapel, flanked by military Pall Bearers."

Prince Philip died aged 99, just two months before his 100th birthday, following a prolonged period in hospital. He was treated for an infection and also underwent heart surgery in March but was discharged, giving him a few precious weeks at home with his wife – Queen Elizabeth - before he passed away.

The Buckingham Palace statement said: "Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family are grateful for all the messages of condolence from around the world and have been touched to see and hear so many people sharing fond memories of The Duke of Edinburgh.

"Although plans for the Funeral have been modified to take into account public health guidelines, the ceremonial aspects of the day and the Funeral Service itself are in line with

The Duke's wishes and will reflect His Royal Highness's personal and military affiliations."

US President Joe Biden said: "Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK, the Commonwealth, and to his family.

“The impact of his decades of devoted public service is evident in the worthy causes he lifted up as patron, in the environmental efforts he championed, in the members of the armed forces that he supported, in the young people he inspired, and so much more.”

The New York Post's coverage said Philip was known for his "easy-going humour, dapper wardrobe and sometimes startling frankness".

It added: "Despite never being crowned king, the Duke played an important role behind closed doors, supporting his wife of seven decades during times of great tumult."

Elsewhere around the world, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden praised Philip as "a good friend of our family with a friendship we have placed great value on."

The Belgian Royal Palace said it was deeply saddened by the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, tweeting a tribute along with photos of the family with Prince Philip.

The palace said: “Deeply saddened by the passing away of His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. We wish to express our deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen, the British royal family and the people of the United Kingdom.

“Philippe and Mathilde.”

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin also issued his condolences to Queen Elizabeth over the death of Prince Philip, the Kremlin press service has announced.

Mr Putin was said to write: ‘Philip was tied to many important events in the recent history of your country. He was rightly respected among the British public and bore international authority.’

He also wished that Queen Elizabeth be “courage and mental fortitude in the face of a heavy and irreparable loss,” and asked his condolences to be passed on to all members of the Royal Family.

In a statement issued from Canberra, Mr Morrison said: "For nearly 80 years, Prince Philip served his Crown, his country and the Commonwealth.

"His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was, in the words of Her Majesty, her 'strength and stay'. He embodied a generation that we will never see again.

"Beginning as a naval cadet in 1939, he served in war and in peace. When Her Majesty ascended the throne, The Duke ended his military service and became her constant support.

"Prince Philip was no stranger to Australia, having visited our country on more than 20 occasions. Through his service to the Commonwealth he presided as patron or president of nearly 50 organisations in Australia. Given his own service, Prince Philip also had a strong connection with the Australian Defence Force.

"For 65 years, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme has encouraged over 775,000 young Australians to explore their leadership potential. Forty thousand young Australians are currently participating in the program. Australians send our love and deepest condolences to her Majesty and all the Royal family.

“The Commonwealth family joins together in sorrow and thanksgiving for the loss and life of Prince Philip. God bless from all here in Australia.

"Further details about Australia's remembrance of Prince Philip will be announced over the coming days. Flags will be lowered in honour of His Royal Highness."

Other Commonwealth leaders left comments with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying: "My thoughts are with the British people and the Royal Family on the passing away of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

"He had a distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives. May his soul Rest in Peace!"

Taoiseach of Ireland Micheál Martin said he was "saddened to hear of the death of HRH, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts and prayers are with Queen Elizabeth and the people of the United Kingdom at this time".

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen at this profoundly sad time. On behalf of the New Zealand people and the Government, I would like to express my sincere condolences to Her Majesty and to all the Royal Family."

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that there will be a gun salutes marking the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. This will take place across the UK and at sea today with saluting batteries firing 41 rounds at one round every minute from 12 noon in cities including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

With the public being encouraged to observe the gun salutes online or on television, rather than gather in crowds to watch outside, it falls in line with the plans for a pared-back funeral due to Covid restrictions. In London, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will ride out from their base at Napier Lines, Woolwich Barracks, onto the Parade Ground.

On the 12.00 GMT gun salute, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:Bottom of Form “His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was a constant supporter and ambassador of the armed forces.

“We celebrate his life of service and offer our condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family.” The gun salute will act as the military’s tribute to the duke.

Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter said the duke had been devoted to the armed forces after his own years in the Royal Navy. He said: “His Royal Highness has been a great friend, inspiration and role model for the armed forces and he will be sorely missed.

“A life well lived, His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty. From all of us who serve today and who have served, thank you.”

The Honourable Artillery Company will fire a salute at the Tower of London, the 104th Regiment Royal Artillery will fire from Cardiff Castle, and the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery will fire at Hillsborough Castle, Belfast and Edinburgh Castle.

Ships taking part include the HMS Diamond, HMS Montrose and HMNB Portsmouth, while the Royal Gibraltar Regiment will join the salute from the British overseas territory.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Our thoughts are with the Royal Family at this difficult time and their grief is shared by people across the country."

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, said: “Prince Philip would be sorely missed by the people of Wales".

"Throughout his long and distinguished life, he served the crown with selfless devotion and generosity of spirit," he added.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster also offered her "deepest sympathies" to the Queen and the Royal Family "at this sad time".

The Scottish Tories, Scottish Labour, Scottish Liberal Democrats and the SNP also confirmed they will pause campaigning following the news.

Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan paid tribute to the Duke’s contributions to the capital this afternoon, saying: “Prince Philip had a positive impact on London, Britain and the lives of so many will live on for many years to come.

“I extend my deepest sympathies to Her Majesty The Queen and the entire Royal Family at this sad time.”

Flags will fly at half-mast on UK Government buildings in tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh until the morning after his funeral.

Preparations for the funeral of Prince Philip, at St George's Chapel, in the grounds of Windsor Castle, are under way, with the procession and service to be televised, worldwide, tomorrow (Saturday April 17).

The guest list includes members of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's families, including relatives from Germany. Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, will attend but his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, will not make the trip from the US, on medical advice.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who died aged 99, will have a ceremonial funeral, rather than a state funeral, with the coffin to be moved from the private chapel to the State Entrance of Windsor Castle. It will be placed on a modified Land Rover, that the duke himself helped design, to be carried the short distance to St George's Chapel.

The duke is reported to have requested a funeral of minimal fuss and has not laid in state - where members of the public would have been able to view his coffin. Covid restrictions on crowds and numbers attending funerals mean the ceremony - at 15:00 BST - will be much lower key than in more normal of times - although the Palace says this reflects the duke's wishes and it will still celebrate and reflect a life of service.

Coronavirus restrictions in England mean only 30 people, socially distanced, are allowed to attend funerals, with attendees expected to wear masks in line with government advice. The pallbearers and clergy are not included in the number of attendees. The televised event will be carried out in line with Coronavirus restrictions but there will be a military presence with personnel from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and RAF.

With the armed forces important to the duke – who served in the Royal Navy - they will play a part in his funeral, with military top brass present. Servicemen and women will be prominent tomorrow with some 730 members of the Armed Forces set be on parade.

The government confirmed that the period of national mourning will continue until after the funeral while a two-week period of royal mourning will be observed by members of the royal family, who will be undertaking appropriate engagements while wearing black mourning bands. There will be no public access for the funeral.

Away from the funeral, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award has announced that it is launching a new fund in memory of Prince Philip, which will give one million more young people the chance to take part in the programme he founded over the next five years.

British Entrepreneur, Lazar Vukovic has released a statement in regards to his work with the Serbian royal family, and what the royals mean to us all - no matter where we are from.

Lazar comments: "Working with the royal family of Serbian really opened my eyes to how much the royals actually help their nation first hand. Seeing the people of the nation being the heart and drive of Their Royal Highnesses work is very emotional to witness. From healthcare to education, the work of the royals for a better nation is something so selfless that in today's world is very rare to see.

"We need to appreciate our royal family more than ever, and their duties for not only the economy but the people of the nation."

Lazar has just released his debut book 'Make It Happen!' in which he talks about his childhood as a Serbian immigrant, how he began working with the Serbian royal family and of course, how to make it happen in today's crazy world. 

Celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs to mark the beginning of the Hindu solar New Year, people around the world marked Vaisakhi - sometimes called Baisakhi, Vaishakhi, or Vasakhi - and takes place each year in April and is celebrated across the world.

This year, as before, the festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community, the Khalsa, marked the holiest day in the Sikh calendar.

An ancient festival of Punjabis, it marks the Solar New Year and is also a harvest festival marking the creation of the community of initiated Sikhs. This year, however, religious worships moved online and the practice of offering food was taken out to the community, as people self-isolated and stayed at home.

With two different elements to Vaisakhi - firstly it refers to the harvest festival in the Punjab region of India, and secondly, it marks the day that Sikhism was born as a collective faith in 1699 – the day is also observed by the farming community of Punjab as a day of giving thanks and paying tribute to God for their abundant harvest and praying for future prosperity.

Vaisakhi is all about community, progression and celebration and is marked around the world with processions known as a nagar kirtan.

People often visit temples or gurdwaras on Vaisakhi, were special services take place. The Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is usually raised on a platform leading parade, to signify its importance.

In the UK, large-scale events usually take place across the country including performances and gatherings, but due to Covid-19, for a second year running. Events would also usually include performances by Sikh artists, dances, food stalls and more, with smaller community fairs often taking place around the country.

Some of the commonly prepared dishes during Vaisakhi include:

·         Traditional kadhi with besan pakodas dunked in a thick gravy of yogurt

·         Meethe Peeley Chawal – basmati rice, cashew nuts, saffron and cinnamon

·         Kesar Phirni – a sweet rice pudding with saffron, cardamom, sugar, milk and almonds,

·         Mango Lassi – mango, honey, ice and plain yoghurt

·         Kada Prasad (Atta Halwa) – wholewheat flour, ghee, sugar and water

With festivals cancelled amid pandemic, half a million British-Sikhs prepared to mark the Vaisakhi festival under coronavirus lockdown restrictions for the second year running.

Every year, Muslims across the globe observe a month of daily fasting during Ramadan.

The ninth month of the Islamic calendar involves abstaining from food, drink, smoking and sex between early morning and sunset.

Fasting - during Ramadan or for other reasons - is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the others being faith, prayer, charity and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Ramadan 2019 was a test of faith because it fell in the longer days of summer, meaning extended hours of going without food and drink in hot weather.

Ramadan 2020 was during a full lockdown in the UK and across the world so that presented another set of challenges, with Muslims told to remain in their own homes, despite the usual tradition for communal meals and prayers.

For 2021, there are still restrictions in place but mosques are open for limited, pre-booked communal worship and special guidance has been issued on night prayers, meals before and after fasting, and spiritual retreats.

This is the month in which the Qur'an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad and so it's regarded as a time filled with blessings when worshippers focus their minds and bodies on spirituality rather than on earthly needs and indulgences.

It's traditional to convey greetings and blessings to those who are about to begin an entire month of fasting.

So what are the typical blessings to be said to Muslim family and friends at the start of the month? How do you wish people a Happy Ramadan?

And once the month of fasting is over, it's time to celebrate Eid al-Fitr and wish each other Eid Mubarak.

With strict rules around Ramadan, there have been concerns from some people about whether they can have their Covid-19 vaccine injection when they are fasting.

The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) has consulted a wide range of scholars and the opinion of the vast majority is that receiving a vaccine by injection does not invalidate the fast.

It said: “Taking the Covid-19 vaccines currently licensed in the UK does not invalidate the fast.” People are also advised to get tested regularly, have their vaccine as soon as they can, and continue to follow Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air guidance.

The BIMA also considered whether Muslims should take Covid-19 tests during Ramadan and said: “Taking the Covid-19 PCR or lateral flow tests does not invalidate the fast during Ramadan, as per the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars.”

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, paid tribute to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh as follows:

“It is with deep sorrow that I have learnt of the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“Through over seventy years of marriage, His Royal Highness supported Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in fulfilling her duties as Head of the Commonwealth.

“The Duke shared with Her Majesty a high view of what humanity can achieve through cooperation and working together. His questioning mind and sense of adventure, combined with an engaging informality and forthrightness, enabled him to communicate huge positivity and faith as to what could be achieved through individual and international connection.

“His Royal Highness had experienced camaraderie and comradeship during World War II and service in the Royal Navy. Following his marriage in 1947, he sought out ways of bringing this spirit to the institutions and organisations of the Commonwealth, so that they would reap the dividends of collaboration in peacetime too – including for remote and marginalised communities.

“It was the Duke who in 1952, during their stay in Kenya en route to Australia and New Zealand, gave Princess Elizabeth the sad news that her father King George VI had died, and that she was Queen.

“Their Coronation tour of the Commonwealth in 1953, during which they covered 40,000 miles, took place in a world far less connected than it is today by swift travel and instant communications technology.

“At the time of her coronation, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were tremendously glamorous and remarkably young. They symbolised hope for the future, and the spirit of goodwill and optimism rooted in a sense of belonging together as members of a worldwide family – not just of nations, but of people.

“Their tours were important expressions of Commonwealth inclusiveness, bringing together countries and communities which – although far apart on the map – were made to feel close because of shared inheritances and their continuing Commonwealth identity, made real in a special way through the physical presence of The Queen and the Duke.

“His Royal Highness had a farsighted understanding of the potential of Commonwealth connection, and his approaches to bringing people together from a wide range of backgrounds to develop leadership skills were regarded as innovative and brave.

“With vigour and vision, the Duke of Edinburgh carved out an immensely valuable role for himself within Commonwealth networks, with a focus on projects and programmes through which he could build on his distinctive philosophy of cultivating understanding and self-reliance, and thereby complement Her Majesty’s official responsibilities and duties as Head of the Commonwealth.

“His Royal Highness described the Commonwealth Studies Conferences, which he founded in 1956, as “an extraordinary experiment". They were a pioneering forum for bringing together emerging leaders and talented men and women from the management of industrial corporations, trade unions, the professions and civil society. His vision and prescience in creating this movement at this time was a striking demonstration of a depth of understanding of what would be needed to meet the challenges of the next millennium.

“Similarly, his determination through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to offer opportunities for young people to stretch themselves, to gain confidence and develop resourcefulness, was important in nurturing social progress and innovation throughout the Commonwealth.

“These were ground-breaking initiatives when first established, and continue – more than sixty years later - to offer valuable opportunities for people throughout the Commonwealth.

“His Royal Highness was associated as patron or president with a range of Commonwealth charitable bodies and civil society organisations, taking a keen interest in their activities. He also made notable contributions as an early and prominent advocate for international action on the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats.

“During a period of unprecedented change and technological progress, the Duke of Edinburgh supported The Queen with energy and imagination. They will each of them forever remain inextricably connected to the period when the Commonwealth developed and grew in stature.

“Past, present and future generations of Commonwealth citizens owe a debt of gratitude to Prince Philip for remaining constant and steadfast in his commitment to the Commonwealth, and his assuredness and vision of its global importance.

“When meeting His Royal Highness, I always found him charming and witty, and he showed real kindness making every effort to put me at ease.

“In mourning his passing, we each share in some measure the far greater sense of loss and bereavement Her Majesty The Queen and members of the Royal Family will be feeling at this time of such sadness.

“It falls to me, on behalf of the Commonwealth family which he served so long and so faithfully, to offer Her Majesty and all those close to His Royal Highness Prince Philip our heartfelt condolences and sympathy.”

The Caribbean island of St Vincent has been covered in a layer of ash after a volcano began erupting there on Friday. There is major disruption for islanders who are without power or water supply.

The eruption of the La Soufrière volcano has forced around 16,000 people to evacuate their homes. The Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has called for calm.

People living on the nearby island of Barbados have also been told to stay indoors as the ash spreads through the air. The volcano was dormant for decades but started to become active in December. Scientists warn that eruptions could continue for days - or even weeks.

The explosive volcanic eruption blanketed the island in ash and smoke and forced thousands of people out of their homes. La Soufrière, which has been dormant for decades, first started showing volcanic activity in December, but that increased.

The Prime Minister urged the residents in "red zones" to evacuate as the volcano has been spewing dark ash plumes 6 km (3.7 miles) into the air. Ash fall has been recorded as far from the volcano as Argyle International Airport some 20 km away, St Vincent's National Emergency Management Organisation (Nemo) said.

The volcano had been dormant since 1979, but in December it started spewing steam and smoke, and making rumbling noises. The first sign that an eruption was imminent came on Thursday evening, when a lava dome became visible on La Soufrière.

That same night, Mr Gonsalves ordered an urgent evacuation of the surrounding area.

Then on Friday, seismologists from the University of the West Indies confirmed that an explosive eruption was under way. Evacuees were taken to cruise ships and safer parts of the island.

One resident, Zen Punnett, said that he saw "a huge ball of smoke", and that there was panic when people were first ordered to evacuate. "I can feel and hear rumbling here in the green safe zone... keeping calm as much as possible and praying," he added.

Lavern King, a volunteer at shelters on the island, said: "People are still being evacuated from the red zone, it started yesterday evening and into last night. The place in general is in a frenzy." Inhabitants of the red zone constitute more than 10% of the country's population. Later on another explosion was recorded, the UWI Seismic Research Centre tweeted.

Some evacuation procedures were hindered by the heavy ash fall, which had made visibility "extremely poor", Nemo said.

"Now that the La Soufrière volcano has begun erupting explosively, ash falls will soon overwhelm us," the organisation wrote on Facebook, adding: "Be sure to get rid of or clean up the ash, soon after it falls. If rain falls, the ash could harden and pose a danger to you."

Most of the Lesser Antilles islands are part of a long volcanic arc in the Eastern Caribbean. The last eruption, in 1979, caused more than $100m (£73m) of damage on the island.

The worst eruption on record, in 1902, killed more than 1,000 people. Local media have also reported increased activity from Mount Pelee on the island of Martinique, north of St Vincent.

The recent two-part ITV documentary Britain's Tiger Kings - On The Trail With Ross Kemp highlighted the growing problems associated with the keeping of wild animals as pets.

In response to the documentary, Born Free’s co-founder and Executive President Will Travers OBE said: “I think most people will have found it unbelievable that, in this day and age, so many dangerous animals, including big cats, bears, crocodiles and venomous snakes, are being kept as pets by private individuals across the UK. Increasing demand for all kinds of wild animals as exotic pets puts owners and the wider public at risk of injury or disease. It can also cause serious animal suffering, and the demand may increase the pressure on many wild populations which are often already under threat.”

Born Free believes the documentary provided further evidence of the need for far greater restrictions on the trade in and keeping of wild animals as pets in the UK. For many years Born Free has been highlighting the fact that obtaining a Dangerous Wild Animals (DWA) licence is far too easy, and calling for reform. As well as failing to keep the public safe, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act does not adequately address animal welfare and takes no account of wildlife conservation or owner suitability.

Earlier this year, Born Free revealed almost 4,000 wild animals were being kept privately under DWA licenses across Great Britain. This number is believed to be the tip of the iceberg, given many species don’t currently require a licence, and long-standing concerns that there is widespread non-compliance with the Act. 

Some of these animals are kept for commercial purposes, however the majority are believed to be kept by individuals as pets, a practice that is on the increase; Born Free’s data suggests an increase of at least 59% in dangerous wild animals kept as pets since 2000.

At the time of its inception, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was intended to make the private keeping of dangerous wild animals an exceptional circumstance. However the ongoing increase in wild animals kept as pets flies in the face of the intention of the Act.

While modest changes have been made to the Schedule (species covered by the Act) over the years, the Act itself has not been substantially updated for more than 40 years. There are still species absent from the Schedule which, under other legislation, including the Zoo Licensing Act, are regarded as a risk to the public, such as large varanid lizards like Komodo dragons, large python & boa species, and a number of birds of prey.

Will Travers continued: “It’s high time for a comprehensive review of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act and its Schedule, and far greater restrictions on the trade in and keeping of wild animals as pets in the UK.

“As a minimum, we are calling for full consideration of whether the welfare needs of individual animals can be met, and owners have necessary qualifications and experience; a guarantee that the trade does not compromise conservation of species in the wild; due consideration of potential environmental concerns (such as the establishment of invasive species through escapes, the deliberate releases of unwanted pets, and the possible spread of zoonotic diseases); and confirmation there is no risk to wider health and safety of animals or people.”

As part of its campaign on this issue Born Free, in collaboration with the RSPCA, has launched a petition calling on the Government to review and reform laws on the private keeping of Dangerous Wild Animals. Born Free has also created an interactive map detailing the dangerous wild animals licensed to be kept privately by local authority.