(1980) Samora Machel, “Transform the State Apparatus into an Instrument of Victory”

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Samora Machel, the leader of the Mozambique Liberation Front and first president of independent Mozambique (1975-1986), was a Marxist-Leninist.  In the speech below, given in Maputo, the capital, on February 7, 1980, he describes the use of the state bureaucracy in fashioning his version of a new revolutionary society in Mozambique.

The state, the state apparatus, is not an abstraction. The state apparatus is all of us meeting here, heads of well-defined structures. It is the ministers, provincial governors, secretaries of state, national or provincial directors, executive heads in cities, districts and localities.

We are here because we are the people with responsibilities. We are here because we merit the political confidence of the party. We have the task in our sectors of smashing the structures, working methods and mentality of colonial-capitalism. We have the task of building a new state apparatus that in character, content and working methods serves our interests.

But some people, with a certain nostalgia, the worshippers and admirers of the colonial system. cherish and nurse its structures instead of smashing them. This is typical of a mentality in bondage to decadent values, negative values — counter-revolutionary values. It is not by chance that we are discovering in the offensive we launched: a failure of management: the hammer-blow does not reach the factory, the warehouse, the docks, the shop, the school, the hospital; red tape established as a working method; routine as a way of life, routine that is conservative; promotion of incompetence; neglect, lack of interest, regarded as something normal; lack of a sense of organization; indiscipline, theft, drunkenness, a disregard for punctuality; waste, squandering, destructiveness; lack of hygiene and cleanliness, an absence of courtesy; corruption, bribery.

The widespread failures in management and discipline have reached such a pitch that in the face of the offensive that was launched, we have already witnessed signs of open challenge to the guidelines we laid down. This challenge is led and guided by a handful of infiltrators who find room for manoeuvre in the various sectors because our power is missing, our discipline is missing, and our interests are not defended.

What Are the Reasons for This?
We issued guidelines and created the basis for smashing the colonial- capitalist state apparatus. We put forward measures, passed laws, established new institutions of state power, appointed officials in our confidence at least to the level, for example, of national directors.

However, there is no certainty of the influence of officials able to carry out the guidelines in departments and sectors. In other words at the rank-and-file level, the sectors are unaffected and, what is more serious, they constrain the decisions that the heads must be taking all the time.

We have not yet broken with colonial working methods: it is impossible for us to recognize reality and alert ourselves to the population’s difficulties, if we stick to the red-tape machinery of documents alone; we are not in direct touch with reality — we don’t go to the factories, the warehouses, the docks, the schools, the hospitals, the farms, or even to our offices; we often do not know the secretary in our private office; in settling problems, we do not heed public opinion, we do not seek the views of the sectors directly affected.

We think we can understand reality in our sectors merely by way of official documents, minutes, reports and memoranda. In other words, we stay immured in our offices in a sea of paper. So we lose a sense of urgency, we lose a sense of the important. We fall into the routine of petty issues. A chain of these petty issues becomes the pattern of our daily round. We lose initiative, we do not lead.

We are seeing again that the principle of constant co-ordination of the various structures has not been taken up. We all talk in meetings about co-ordination, interaction and interdependence, but we do not make the systematic effort required to co-ordinate. We said that ministers must meet to find a joint solution to common problems. But this is not done. The problems go on being settled in isolation, or remain unsettled. We said that national directors must travel in groups to the provinces to deal with specific problems there. But this is not done. We said that provincial directors must as a group travel regularly into the districts to understand the local reality and settle problems. But this is not done either.

The structures in the state apparatus are infiltrated and disorganized. We do not punish indiscipline, we tolerate it. We do not punish saboteurs, we coexist with them and still pay them salaries. We do not remove or combat those who hanker for colonial structures, hierarchies and methods. Quite the reverse, we use them as if they were good cadres.

Smartness, a good appearance, courtesy, delicacy are not yet norms, are not yet an integral part of the approach of workers in the state apparatus, of their approach either to work or to dealing with the public.

A keenness to study, an effort to make the best use of professionalism are not yet current or encouraged. We do not yet make general use of examinations as the criterion for selection, admission and promotion of workers in the state apparatus. Several of the state structures are still fertile ground for the sowing and nurturing of ultra-leftist concepts. The mistakes and deviations are not spotted until months or years later.

Our structures are infiltrated by elements who are irresponsible, negligent, incompetent, thieving, malicious, dishonest, and the faithful servants of colonialism. Our structures shelter opportunists and the power-seekers who, under the banner of racism, tribalism and regionalism, stir up confusion, division and chaos, to satisfy their own personal, selfish and petty secondary interests. They are the mud on our boots that we must take off and clean.

And it is those of us meeting here who have the task of creating the conditions for the mud to be cleaned off all sectors in the state apparatus and in the apparatus of economic management. Each of you here has management responsibilities at various levels in the state apparatus.

We do not wonder that businesses, factories, farms, service agencies, schools and hospitals are at the mercy of saboteurs, infiltrators, bandits, thieves, idlers, misfits, grubs and rodents, when this sort of thing goes on in the state structures that must lead these other bodies.

We must take the initiative, we must be permanently on the offensive. It is the battle of class struggle. We must keep the enemy always on the defensive.
State leadership over the economy, over the productive sectors (not excluding education, health, information), does not make itself felt merely through instructions, orders and regulations. It also comes through example and the daily effort of organization, discipline, efficiency and effectiveness, speed and energy in doing tasks, deep knowledge of and sensitivity to the people’s problems, respect for work, devotion and enthusiasm for one’s duties.

The state must be the first to be organized and totally committed to serving the interests of the people. We must always be clear that the example is set at the top. The example in the exercise of power must come from the top. If this has not yet been done fully, it is because we have not yet banged home the hammer we have in our hands. The nail has not gone in, has not reached the heart of the wood. So our structures are weak, they are not solid, they are susceptible, they do not form a unity with all their personnel on the same road shoulder to shoulder and marching in step towards the same goal, towards development and the consolidation of socialism.

Measures To Be Taken
At the close of our meeting, we feel there is general agreement that we should take steps, including some legislation, to ensure the following points:

1. Full establishments in management structures, at ministry level, and executive level in provinces, districts, localities and communal villages.

2. Organization of management in enterprises and organization of the actual enterprises by providing them with regulations, capital, budgets, etc. On this point since there are numerous instances, there will have to be an operational plan to deal with them all.

3. We want managements to manage and not act as firemen responding to an emergency but letting it stop them tackling underlying issues. The management must organize, plan and control, and insist on accountability.

4. The system of internal information and co-ordination must operate. We have to ensure the exchange of information. In this field there is an urgent need for: a) correct linkage between the national directorates in the ministries and between the ministries; b) regular functioning of the provincial, district, city and locality executives; c) correct linkage and chain of command between national and local directorates; d) correct linkage between state executive bodies and enterprises such as to ensure that on the one hand the state executive bodies supervise and control, and on the other hand the enterprises are managed by their own management; e) monthly and six-monthly accounting by each person in charge to his hierarchical superior.

5. It is essential that, on the model of what has already been provided for in the state apparatus, the law should ensure discipline in enterprises and empower their managements to penalize indiscipline, slackness, negligence, carelessness and bad workmanship, and to reward good work. Absenteeism should be grounds for dismissal.

6. Criminal activities, theft, misappropriation of goods, poor maintenance of the enterprise’s equipment are common-law offences that should be controlled by the courts with greater severity.

7. It is essential to link enterprises on the basis of objective laws of a socialist economy and legal system. In this field, it is particularly pertinent to define the role of production units, wholesalers, retailers, carriers, importers and exporters. Interrelationship between enterprises must be stated in contracts that provide penalty clauses for a breach of their conditions.

8. Salaries and wages must reflect the reality of the enterprise’s economic performance; deviations from the planned performance should be reflected in pay.

9. We must ensure competence and responsibility at work. Recruitment, promotion, pay rises should follow objective criteria, and appropriate qualifications must be demanded for each post. A worker’s usefulness and behaviour should be studied before any promotion, and such promotion should normally be made on the basis of tests.

10. Personnel must not be recruited to one sector to the detriment of other sectors. Services and enterprises cannot compete with one another by poaching cadres, technicians and workers. It is imperative that our country should offer equal pay for equal work. It is equally imperative that we put a stop to the tradition of special privileges for workers in particular sectors. If a brewery worker can take beer home, if a worker at Avicola can take chickens home, then the works driver will borrow the car for his personal use, the bus driver will do the same thing, and soon the cashier will be taking the money home. It is robbery, it damages the enterprise, and it damages the public.

11. Workers must come to work properly dressed at all services and firms. There are some sectors where uniform or a working dress is compulsory. The working dress must protect the worker, and in the food industry must also maintain health and hygiene requirements. Administrative personnel in government, services and enterprises must come to work in a suit and tie or tunic. Going to work in shirt-sleeves, sandals, T-shirts with slogans and advertisements, or jeans shows a lack of respect for the place of work, for colleagues, for superiors and above all for the public. As well as the poor taste it often reveals, it leads to disrepute, liberalism and indiscipline. As regards women, we must urge decency and good taste. It is unacceptable to come to work in a headscarf. Where the head needs to the covered for purposes of hygiene — in the food industry for example — then the workplace should provide a cap.

12. Ministries, services and enterprises must without fail organize an upgrading system for their staff, combining practice, study and theory, in-house training, secondments and training seminars, evening classes, etc.

13. We must make the fullest use of internationalist solidarity and technical co-operation to train cadres at home and abroad. We shall have to send tens of thousands of people for training abroad to meet the demands of development.

14. The quality of our products and their packaging and our advertising must be competitive.