SACP 96th Anniversary Statement delivered by Cde Solly Mapaila, First Deputy General Secretary, 96th Anniversary Rally, Khayelitsha, Cape Town, 19 August 2017
Struggling in unchartered waters
On 30 July 2017 our Party, the South African Communist Party marked its 96th founding anniversary. The 96thanniversary of our Party coincided with an increasingly difficult situation facing our revolution. In summary, the revolution has been plunged into a worse crisis since our Historic April 1994 Democratic Breakthrough. The revolution has effectively been pushed into unchartered waters. Without fundamentally altering the way things are going in the troubled waters, without a successful turnaround strategy, the ANC might not pass the mark of 50 percent in the 2019 elections.
Things are unfolding as if our alliance does not exist. There is a growing tendency of arrogance from within the ANC to think and behave as if the ANC is the whole alliance. This is why those pushing this tendency do not mind to issue statements misinforming the public, saying that we have held alliance meetings since the SACP and COSATU independently decided that it was time for President Jacob Zuma to resign. The lie does not end there.
It goes on, without a shame, to allege that the matter was discussed exhaustively with alliance partners expressing their views at alliance platforms created by the ANC. The ANC that we know did not earn its hegemony through lies. It earned its hegemony through the truth. Lies and arrogance will liquidate the ANC and destroy the alliance. This is what the leaders of the ANC should know.
The truth is that ever since we decided that it was time for Zuma to resign there has not been an alliance meeting. Alliance meetings that were scheduled to take place were postponed by the ANC. This is what happened to the Alliance Political Council that was scheduled to take place on 4 and 5 June 2017. Since March when we decided that it was time for Zuma to resign the reigning ANC leadership cohort has made sure that there is no alliance meeting held. On the other hand, in contradiction, they were using public platforms calling on alliance partners to express their views at alliance meetings. Dishonesty will liquidate the ANC and destroy the alliance. This process is already underway as evidenced in the now fast-declining ANC electoral support and weakening of alliance unity.
When the ANC cancelled this year’s June Alliance Political Council meeting the SACP responded by calling for the meeting to take place as a matter of urgency. That has not happened, yet the ANC claimed this week that it has always created platforms for engagement with alliance partners to make decisions. We want to take this opportunity to reiterate our call for an urgent Alliance Political Council meeting to discuss, not trivial issues, but the major decision by the SACP and COSATU that it was time for President Zuma to resign and, if not, the ANC must recall him.
The resignation of Zuma or his recall will not act as a panacea to the many systemic and structural problems our revolution, democratic movement and the people are faced with. But one thing is certain. Zuma’s resignation or recall will form the basis for resolving the endless problems associated with his pathetic and failing leadership. We must successfully deal with the problems of corruption, rent-seeking, corporate capture of the state, and corporate capture of sections of our movement and its leaders – that is if we want the movement to emerge united and decisively victorious in the 2019 elections.
All of these problems have become worse during the terms of office of Zuma as the head of state. His friends, the Guptas, who are in business with his son, have made a lot of money from state owned enterprises, from decisions made or influenced by those they are very close to or their captured network of public office bearers, officials and executives of state entities.
The SACP has nothing in common with ratings agencies. But we are not ignorant. We are not oblivious to the deleterious consequences of their downgrading decisions. Zuma’s reckless decision-making, his decision-making without consultation with the ANC – as acknowledged by other ANC national officials (e.g. the last Cabinet reshuffle), and without consultation with the alliance, has delivered our country, on a silver platter, to a junk status.
The consequences are enormous. The cost of borrowing has shot up sky high. Our economy slipped into recession. Thousands of workers in the mining sector are facing retrenchments. Zuma’s blind loyalists, those who said the rand must be allowed to fall as they will easily “pick it up”, have no solution. They are not experiencing any problems personally – because they are living out of tax payers’ money.
Unemployment, inequality and poverty remain systemically high. And the solution is not to hand over our country to the dictatorship of the International Monetary Fund in the name of radical economic transformation. Such a sell out “radical economic transformation” is not true radical economic transformation. It is false radical economic transformation. It will bring our democratic national and policy sovereignty to an end and replace both with IMF dictates.
The solution lies in dealing with governance decay, corruption, wasteful and fruitless expenditure, irregular spending, state capture, illicit tenders, and rotten leadership. Our state is highly indebted not only because of valid reasons. As a nation we are indebted also because of people stealing tax payers’ money.
As a nation we are indebted also because we are losing money public resources as a result of corruption, illicit tenders, corporate capture of the state, privatisation and outsourcing, and other forms of siphoning off of money from the public assets. Those who think that these problems that have become worse under Zuma’s leadership will be solved under his leadership are day dreaming. They have buried their heads in the sand from hard facts, from the truth, from reality.
Our revolution is indeed struggling in unchartered waters!
The present situation facing our programme to complete the liberation of our historically oppressed people towards social emancipation is facing uncertain circumstances. The future of our people, the majority of whom is made up of the workers, the unemployed and the poor, both in rural and urban areas, is now hanging in the balance. Our hard-won 1994 historic breakthrough, and indeed its subsequent constitutional achievements are now facing a real threat of erosion.
Organisationally tendencies that are foreign to the revolutionary values that we developed to guide our conduct in our 96 years of unbroken struggle for national liberation and socialism have become entrenched. These are the values of revolutionary moral superiority, the values that we did not elaborate entirely alone but through mutual influence with our 105 year-old ally, our own mass-based national liberation organisation, the ANC. These are the values that we also developed in alliance with our country’s progressive trade union movement.
Principled unity has collapsed, or it has effectively been replaced with unprincipled, factionally articulated unity. Unity of factions, as well as, inevitably, the scramble for national wealth and public resources is presented as a solution to the collapse of principled unity based on a common programme. The principle of democratic centralism proper, which involves freedom of discussion based on consensus-seeking, democratic consultation towards binding decisions, has been replaced with factional centralism and avoidance or suppression of democratic consultation. Revolutionary discipline has collapsed, or it has been replaced with factional discipline. Accountability is factionalised or non-existent.
A new tendency disguised as a high level of concern about the strategic importance of our alliance has emerged. In many instances, this tendency is exposed by the very factional, and of course divisive speeches through which it is broadcast. In practice the chief representatives of this tendency have resorted to all sorts of tricks to avoid democratic consultation with the alliance on decisions that affect our revolution, particularly when coming to the state, including parliament, government and other levers of state power.
Factionalism, corporate capture of the state and of some sections of our movement, corruption, networks of patronage and complicity with parasites (the parasitic bourgeoisie) in the hollowing out of state institutions and public entities, have become an entrenched reality. This is destroying our movement and shedding its support and hard-won democratic hegemony.
But let us clarify one thing. The rot of corruption, rent-seeking and state capture always everywhere involves the ‘hidden hand’ from the private sector, from private wealth accumulation interests on the ‘demand side’. On the ‘supply side’ it involves corruptible or captured bureaucrats (public sector officials), public office bearers or public representatives who at times act together in concert. The epicentre of this rot therefore lies in tenders or supply chain management.
Associated with this rot is state dependency on the ‘invisible hand’ of the capitalist market for the production and delivery of pubic goods and services. This does not mean that private sector investment is all of a sudden less important. On the contrary it is still important, but its importance rests in a contribution to the achievement of national transformation and development imperatives, rather than in the exploitation and looting of our national wealth and public resources. This is why as the SACP we are deeply worried about looming retrenchments of thousands of workers in the mining sector.
The rot is compounding the triple capitalist produce of persisting high levels of inequality, unemployment and poverty. Millions of workers who wake up in the early hours of the morning, or who work under tiring shift patterns, live in poverty as if they are unemployed. The lack of a safe, reliable and affordable public transport system, coupled with the persisting legacy of apartheid settlement patterns that forced black people far away from work, means that they spend a significant portion of their wages on transport.
Crime and violence, including violence against women and children, have plunged our communities into a crisis of insecurity and fear. Drug dealing, drug and substance abuse, have become widespread. State organs that are supposed to be fighting the rot are increasingly losing the trust of the people, the crimes are endless and have almost become an established system.
What is to be done?
1. Let us intensify our struggle to bring an end to violence and crime in our communities, including gender based violence and abuse of children. Let us not confine the struggle against gender based abuse and violence to Women’s Month, August. Let us fight this battle every day, every week, every month, let us fight this battle the whole year. Let us fight to the end and win the war against abusers and criminals. Let us re-build and strengthen organs of people’s power in every one of our communities. Let us build functional street, block and village committees and strong community policing forums. Let us take charge of our destination.
2. Unless we combine our efforts to fight corruption, misgovernance and state capture with a drive to disembed our state from private wealth accumulation interests, that is unless we intensify our fight against corruption, misgovernance and state capture with a drive to build a capable democratic developmental state with strategic discipline and technical capacity to serve the people wholeheartedly (with no distortion or dilution by private wealth accumulation interests), the problems will persist. The least we will do will be to soften its sharpest edges. Let us intensify our struggle against capitalist barbarity. Let us build people’s power.
3. It is very clear that the mode of operation of our alliance essentially involving one alliance partner alone taking decisions on our shared revolution is outdated. Unless the alliance is reconfigured, it will not be able to hold together in its current form going forward. The alliance must function truly as a strategic political centre to direct and monitor the implementation of the national democratic revolution particularly in the state.
We cannot work in silos. The alliance must function on the basis of a democratic, consensus-seeking consultation model at all levels. If we cannot work together to implement, that is to develop a common legislative and policy direction to the revolution through democratic consultation and joint decision-making on related state deployments, we will not have any reasons remaining to justify the strategic relevance of the alliance. The alliance will be nothing else than what it already has been reduced to in many areas; an electoral campaigning machinery of the ANC, something that is used to win elections for the ANC and dumped immediately thereafter until the next elections.
4. Reconfiguring the alliance will be incomplete without taking into account the fact that its partners comprise not only of one but two primary political organisations, the ANC and the SACP. The alliance’s relationship to state power must be restructured to take this reality into account, and to be sensitive to the historical missions of its trade union and civic movement partners as well.
This is why we will engage with our alliance partners on our 14th National Congress resolution that the SACP must actively contest state power through elections. The Congress resolved that this may or may not be within the umbrella of a reconfigured alliance. Reconfiguring the alliance will be crucial if the Party’s Special National Congress that will adopt the way forward on the modalities is to decide not to contest elections outside of the ANC-led electoral modality. The Road Map that the Central Committee has been mandated to draw up on this matter also instructs the SACP to engage with worker and progressive formations and to consider forging broad Left Front platform.
5. We must reconstitute the whole of our movement on a revolutionary basis. This is why as the SACP we have initiated processes to forge the broadest possible patriotic front in defence of our country’s constitution and to fight corruption and corporate capture of the state. We have already proposed that this should be expanded to encompass a minimum programme on tackling the problems of inequality, unemployment, poverty and insecurity in our communities.
6. The SACP at its 14th National Congress in July this year reaffirmed the Freedom Charter’s principle that the mineral wealth of our country belongs to the people as a whole. The Congress rejected the recently announced Mining Charter’s idea of the so-called ‘free-carry’ shares reserved for individuals as their private property. It is time that transformation of the mining sector is anchored on fostering ownership by the people as a whole, as opposed to a select few simply because they are black.
7. Transformation in general must be anchored in resolving the historical injustices of oppression suffered by our people. The idea of naturalising certain individuals from elsewhere and declaring that they have suffered the historical injustices of the oppression suffered by our people under colonialism and apartheid (i.e. before 1994) does not make any sense, except perhaps to the irrationality for obvious example of the Gupta-captured patronage networks.
8. This 96th anniversary of our Party should serve as a source of motivation for us to deepen our efforts to move our national democratic revolution onto a second more radical phase. This is essentially about defending and deepening our democracy to its full potential. It is about advancing true radical economic transformation, as opposed to false radical economic transformation that has nothing to do with changing the exploitative system and structure of our economy.
9. We are calling on the mining sector to stop the retrenchment plans. In particular, we find it unacceptable that some of the looming retrenchments are as a result of mothballing of shafts which still have reserves of mineral resources. In general the SACP is concerned that the looming retrenchments are concerned only with profit without regard to the workers.
10. The SACP will seek an urgent bilateral meeting with the National Union of Mineworkers and calls on the labour movement in the mining sector to unite in the interests of the workers. At best we should all meet as a working class movement in the best interests of the workers to share perspectives on a common programme to deal with the problem of looming retrenchments and other future problems in the sector. This is an initiative we are prepared to take as the SACP. Our message to all unions in the sector and the workers is that divided we will fall – let us unite, if not under one umbrella organisation at least behind a common programme.
Issued by the SACP, 19 August 2017