How the radical Second Phase must be pursued - SACP CC

Party says critical elements include transformation of control of key commanding heights of economy

South African Communist Party CENTRAL COMMITTEE statement, June 1 2014

From election victory to a second, more radical phase of the national democratic revolution!

The SACP Central Committee met in Johannesburg over the weekend of 30 May to 1 June. The CC meeting provided the SACP leadership with the opportunity to assess the outcome of the May 7 general elections, as well as to discuss the key strategic priorities for the coming five years of the incoming, fifth ANC-led South African democratic administration.

The CC saluted the ANC-led alliance electoral victory, secured with an overwhelming 62% of the vote.

It is a popular mandate that was achieved under extremely challenging conditions that included the impact on our country of the global economic crisis and the unremitting, anti-ANC alliance hostility of most of the commercial print and electronic media, with some exceptions. The electoral campaign also coincided with serious challenges to the unity of COSATU, and the emergence of a right-wing demagogic movement, the EFF, posing as left-wing and mobilising opportunistically on the basis of objectively grounded youth grievances.

Under these conditions the SACP Central Committee at the beginning of March called on the working class to close ranks to ensure an ANC election victory to advance, deepen and defend the gains achieved over the past 20 years. We are proud to record that SACP activists rose to the challenge.

Tens of thousands of SACP red brigade volunteers throughout the country injected energy and consistency into the ANC election campaign. In many cases, Bekkersdal being one case in point, it was SACP volunteers who were able to access community hot-spots and ensure that threatened electoral boycotts and disruptions were averted. A major highlight of the electoral campaign was the 123,000-strong march in eThekwini organised by the SACP together with COSATU.

The election results also provided an indication of challenges going forward. In particular, the metros in Gauteng and the Nelson Mandela Bay metro require dedicated alliance attention. The DA with 22% of the vote remains the major electoral opposition party. The DA's vote has climbed over successive national elections.

However, almost all of this growth has been based on cannibalising other opposition parties, by appealing to sectors of South African society to think of themselves as threatened "ethnic minorities". In this election most commentators failed to notice the DA's electoral support has actually flattened compared to the 2011 local government polls.

In 2011 the DA obtained 24% of the PR vote, and 21,9% of the combined PR, district council and ward vote. The DA's anti-worker, deeply negative campaign this time around was rejected by an overwhelming majority and, in fact, contributed to consolidating the ANC vote.

The text of last week's COSATU CEC unanimous agreement, facilitated by the ANC team task-team, was tabled for noting in the CC. The CC expressed its full support for this important initiative to ensure that the unity of COSATU and its affiliates is safe-guarded. We urge all affiliates to implement the terms agreed upon. Rank and file members of COSATU affiliates understand the critical importance of the founding principles of COSATU for sustaining the unity of their federation and their affiliates.

Let us now carry forward the momentum - from our election victory to a second radical phase of the national democratic revolution!

The election victory is a decisive popular mandate to advance boldly with a second radical phase of the democratic transformation of our country. Now is not the time to de-mobilise our forces, or to indulge in diversions. Now is not the time to become hesitant in the face of threats from the side of monopoly capital. The great majority of the working class and poor have once more placed their trust in the ANC-led alliance, but popular patience in the face of persisting crisis levels of poverty, inequality, and unemployment cannot be taken for granted indefinitely.

In his inauguration speech, President Zuma unambiguously announced a radical new turn as the key priority of his second presidential term. The fundamental content of such a second phase is the transformation of the key structural features of our economy that reproduce poverty, inequality and unemployment. These structural features are embedded in the continued domination of the economy by the mineral-energy-finance monopolies that have been complicit in massive capital flight and an ongoing investment strike. They continue to lock our economy into dependence upon low value, unprocessed mineral exports and a compensatory reliance on volatile, short-term speculative investments and problematic macro-economic policies to attract these.

The result has been a devastating process of deindustrialisation, job losses and the throttling of small and medium enterprises. In the past few years, key state-led initiatives - notably the New Growth Path policy, the Industrial Policy Action Plan, the trillion rand infrastructure build programme - have begun to reverse the tide. These state-led initiatives must be accelerated and consolidated together with:

  • long-range planning, now institutionalised more firmly within government,
  • a major focus on skills training, and
  • the more effective leveraging of our key DFIs, notably the DBSA.

Other critical elements of a radical second phase of the NDR must be:

  • the strategic transformation of the ownership and control function of key commanding heights of the economy; and
  • accelerated land reform in both rural and urban areas, focused on food production and safety, sustainable livelihoods and integrated urbanisation.

A key condition for driving forward such transformation is the collective activism of the workers and urban and rural poor in their own daily lives - and this means:

  • much greater attention to the democratisation (and de-racialisation) of the work-place; and
  • the consolidation of popular participatory democracy within communities. We need to break decisively from the notion of a top-down government delivering to a passive citizenry.

Popular forces must become active protagonists in the struggle for transformation, reinforced by and reinforcing the popular mandate of the democratic state.

The massification of our public employment programmes (under the umbrella of the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Work Programme) present one of several avenues to de-commodify work, to place emphasis - not on the alienated production of surplus for capitalist bosses - but rather on the collective production and democratic ownership and maintenance of community assets and services.

These programmes also provide the space in which to resource and affirm the critical but invisible, often unpaid work undertaken especially by women and voluntary associations, in thousands of poor communities throughout SA.

In the second radical phase, particular attention needs to be paid to the youth of our country. A special focus on youth needs to be embedded in all of the above strategic initiatives - with emphasis on education, training and employment. 

The CC noted the election of a significant number of SACP members to national and provincial legislatures, as well as the appointment of Central Committee members as Ministers and Deputy Ministers in national government. Other CC members have been appointed as MECs in provinces and as premier of the Eastern Cape province. While all of these comrades will serve under the discipline of the ANC, we believe that this is a vote of confidence in the SACP and, as a Party, we will ensure that our members are diligent in carrying forward the popular mandate.

We call on government to convene a multi-stakeholder Mining Indaba

The strike and turmoil on the platinum belt continues. It has had a disastrous impact on the lives of mine-workers, their families and communities both around the mines and in the rural areas from which contract labourers are drawn. Since the tragedy of August 16 2012, violence directed by vigilante forces against NUM members and their families has now resulted in 28 further deaths, including two prospective witnesses to the Farlam Commission. Despite case numbers being opened and perpetrators being well-known in some of these cases, no successful prosecutions have been achieved..

Underpinning this continuing tragedy is the profit-maximising monopoly domination of the platinum sector. The three transnational corporations - Amplats, Lonmin and Implats - have avoided centralised bargaining in the sector, flirted with vigilante unionism, and competed amongst themselves on remuneration of workers. All of this has resulted in chronic labour market instability. To add insult to injury, the senior management have been paying themselves huge and insensitive salaries and perks.

While the current platinum crisis must be resolved as soon as possible with jobs defended - the danger is that any settlement will focus narrowly, if understandably, on remuneration while the critical and wider transformational challenges in the platinum (and broader mining) sector will be side-lined. This will leave the initiative for and direction of restructuring in the hands of the mining monopolies.

The mining houses are looking to further disinvest, to close many shafts and operations, to retrench, and to move to greater capital intensity at the cost of labour in the more profitable operations. Not only will this impact upon employment and economic growth in SA, but it will also have a grave impact upon our downstream industrialisation objectives.

It is for this reason that the SACP calls on government to convene a major mining indaba. This indaba must be used as a key platform for driving the second radical phase of our democratic transition. On the agenda of this indaba must be:

  • taking forward the resolutions of the ANC-mandated "State Intervention in the Mining Sector" (SIMS) policy package;
  • moving towards centralised bargaining for all mining sectors;
  • changes to the grading system in mining. Grading currently fails to sufficiently recognise the dangers and difficulties of certain work categories, notably underground rock-drilling;
  • the role of contract labour in mining;
  • a range of social and economic problems impacting upon many mining communities - housing, the role of mashonisas, the failure of the SAPs to provide community safety and security.

Above all, we must drive the strategic alignment of the mining sector with our critical re-industrialisation priorities. This alignment is and will be resisted by the mining houses and we must be prepared to face them down. This year, 2014, is the deadline for mining corporations to fully comply with the conditions of their mining rights licences. According to our information, not a single mining house will have complied.

What will be the consequences for non-compliance? In particular, we now need to correct the serious omission in the recent amendments to the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Development Act. These amendments failed to address the critical objective of legislating for set-asides of strategic minerals for local manufacturing (iron ore, manganese, platinum, for example) and for energy production (coal and gas) at prices above production costs but below global market prices.

In welcoming this failure on our part, the Chamber of Mines responded with revealing arrogance, saying "why should one economic sector subsidise another?" This is the mouth-piece of mining monopoly capital that has plundered the natural resources of our country for over a century, poisoned our environment, super-exploited workers from the entire southern African region, and made huge profits much of which have been expatriated. We cannot allow their pursuit of mega-profits to continue to suffocate our manufacturing sector, to cripple job creation, and to contribute to rising energy costs for industry and all South Africans.

International solidarity

The CC briefly discussed a number of international issues. The SACP associates itself with the international call "To Bring Back our Girls", while warning against the danger that this terrible crime will be used as an alibi for further imperialist intervention into our continent. The CC expressed its full solidarity with the Turkish miners following the death of 301 coal miners, the direct result of privatisation and cost-cutting driven by private owners. The SACP also welcomes cooperation initiatives between the PLO and Hamas, and the respective administrations on the West Bank and Gaza. The unity of the Palestine people is the absolute precondition for rolling back Zionist aggression.

Let us now carry forward the momentum from an overwhelming election majority!

Let us fearlessly drive our popular mandate!

From our election victory to a second radical phase of the national democratic revolution!

Statement issued by the SACP Central Committee, June 1 2014

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