Declaration of the 4th Special National Congress
12 December 2019
We, delegates of the Fourth Special National Congress of the South African Communist Party, representing 319 000 Party members, carrying on our shoulders the aspirations and hopes of the working class of our country, convened from 9 to 12 December 2019 in Ekurhuleni. Guided by the theme, ‘Rebuild our Movement: Socialism is the Future, Build it Now’, we evaluated the progress made since our 14th National Congress held in July 2017, the challenges experienced by the Party and our people, especially the working class and poor. We received Central Committee reports, held robust deliberations and adopted resolutions and this declaration in our continuing struggle to place the national democratic revolution onto a second radical phase and advance to socialism.
The Special National Congress took place against the background of a deep crisis, particularly affecting the working class and poor of our country. The crisis is typified by a stagnant economy that is continuing to shed jobs in the context of persisting high unemployment rate, entrenched poverty, widening inequality and unresolved legacy of uneven development. There are at least four major historical factors underpinning the crisis:
- The structuring of the economy of South Africa was based on the capitalist regime of economic exploitation and systemic underdevelopment driven by an oppressive domestic ruling class and its external imperialist superiors. Internally, the social engineering of our country’s economy was forged in a colonial relationship between a white minority supremacist bloc and a brutally dispossessed and proletarianised black majority. The oppressed were marginalised into “native” reserves and later urban townships as a huge pool of the under-employed and unemployed forced to sell their labour power on a distant capitalist market. Externally, the structuring of the emergent capitalist economy that was to prevail in our country established South Africa’s semi-peripheral positioning. Our country was incorporated into, but subordinated within the global imperialist accumulation regime essentially as an exporter of primary commodities, mainly minerals, produced on the basis of super-exploited oppressed black labour.
- There was lack of structural transformation, after our 1994 democratic breakthrough, going deep to the root to rid our country’s economy of colonial features and embark on a path of its full development towards collective prosperity. This prevailed as a result of the rise of the neo-liberal 1996 GEAR class project to dominance. Key state owned enterprises that should have been transformed to thrive were not recapitalised, ignoring the fact that they now had to serve all the people on a non-racial basis, rather than just a minority.
This is the context in which there was no additional power generation capacity built for Eskom, a decision made in favour of an intended introducing private profiteering participation and competition in the electricity generation sector. As a result Eskom finds itself today with aging power stations that are increasingly unreliable and the country is frequently plunged into load shedding.
The 1996 GEAR class project also carried out the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, which started in the last decades of the apartheid regime, and pushed neo-liberal shock therapy. This in various ways deprived our country of the resources it needed to build domestic productive capacity and thus support economic and broader social development.
- The global capitalist meltdown in 2008, especially its aftermath, remains persistent globally. This is the context in which growth, even in a number of major economies, is subdued or stagnantly low.
- The state was tenderised and within this context public resources were looted, more so under state capture. The widespread corruption was accompanied by governance decay and mismanagement. State institutions, including Parliament, as the Constitutional Court did find in at least one case, failed to play their role. They were weakened and others were co-opted to either turn a blind eye to the rot or assist it.
The Special National Congress noted that neo-liberal economic policies and the structural stagnation of our economy exacerbate the crisis of social reproduction resulting from inequality, unemployment and poverty. The crisis is reflected in the increasing inability of households and communities to make ends meet.
Its burden is mostly carried by women, who form a leading detachment of community-based organisational efforts directed towards sustainable livelihoods for social reproduction through unpaid labour and other social activities. The burden of the social reproduction crisis is also carried by the youth, the majority of the unemployed, in community protests, and hooked into drugs, substance and alcohol abuse, as well as facing the harsh realities of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The answer to the economic and social reproduction crises that South Africa finds itself in is neither a return to the neo-liberal economic policy regime nor laxity to allow any quarter for state capture networks to re-assert themselves.
In no way does the answer lie in austeritisation of transformation and development. By austeritisation we do not mean that exorbitant perks for politicians, public officials and executives in the economy, and wasteful, fruitless and irregular expenditure should be tolerated or that there should be no measures to curb expenditure that is not going to productive purposes. We mean a conservative fiscal policy stance involving cuts in budgets or financial support affecting programmes that are important to stimulating the economy and meeting the needs of the working class and poor. Austeritisation includes increased taxes negatively affecting the working people while the rich laugh all the way to the bank.
The solution to the economic and social reproduction crises lies in the pursuit of a democratic developmental path and state. Understanding the combined nature of the crises, we call upon government to not fail to address the plight of the working people and poor and adopt measures that will turnaround our economy. To this end the Special National Congress adopted the following programmatic measurers aimed at achieving employment creation and systematic reduction of poverty, inequality and uneven development.
Financial sector transformation
- Financial sector transformation, including low cost banking and financial services and thus systematic elimination of financial exploitation.
- Building a publicly controlled, developmental banking and financial sector.
- Building a co-operatively-owned banking and broader financial sector.
- Strict regulation and management of the capital account.
- Prescribed assets for productive and developmental purpose.
- A sovereign wealth fund to support and increase the levels of public investment.
- Expansion of the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank to explicitly target employment growth and an explicit, inclusive, balanced and sustainable inclusive high growth target.
Broader economic transformation
- A high impact, comprehensive industrial policy, including digital industrial and innovation strategies, aimed at developing our domestic productive capacity.
- A comprehensive socio-economic policy approach, and thus a development oriented poverty eradication strategy, with emphasis placed on support for productive activities and building sustainable livelihoods.
- Revitalisation of the publicly-owned sector of our economy, in particular but not exclusively the turnaround of our state-owned enterprises and systematic expansion of the sector to thrive.
- Combating state capture and other forms of corruption in the public sector as well as across the economy on a more intensified basis.
- Acceleration of land redistribution and support for productive land use, especially for the poor and the working class – to this end the Special National Congress called upon Parliament to complete the process of amending section 25 of the Constitution to make land expropriation without compensation categorical.
- Increased economic and social infrastructure spend, and therefore a stimulus package focusing on developing our domestic productive capacity and turning around our economy.
- Review of the fiscal policy framework to boost state revenue to support industrialisation and development – this should include the introduction of a wealth tax.
- A state-owned pharmaceutical company.
- In line with the commitment made by the Alliance in the ANC May 2019 general election manifesto, overall alignment of our macro-economy policy framework to support the above, the objectives of the second radical phase of our democratic transition, the other commitments made in the manifesto, and the measures that follow.
Sustainable livelihood and social protection
- Adequate social protection, including social grants that are sensitive to inflation pressures and responsive to the already exiting economic and social reproduction crises.
- An economic empowerment programme directly linked to production development support for the broad masses, including a targeted focus on fostering a thriving co-operatives sector in townships and villages to build sustainable livelihoods.
- Promulgation of a local economic development eco-system as an integral part of social protection and alternative development models.
- Land and agrarian reform, with focus on but not exclusively women and youth empowerment.
- Transformation of the public and community works programmes to make them the employer of last resort on the basis of the decent work agenda and a training space for the unskilled.
- More decisive measures to bring an end to gender-based violence – the SACP will continue to deepen its activism.
- Forging ahead with the introduction of the National Health Insurance to ensure quality health care for all, especially the poor and working people.
South African Airways
The Special National Congress called upon government to adopt a compressive aviation industrial policy, anchored in turning around SAA and repositioning it as a state-owned enterprise to serve as the mainstay of our domestic aviation sector and tourism with thriving domestic and international flight routes. The strategy should include technical and professional airline capacity building through education and training programmes.
As part of its rescue plan, which should have been a proactive state-led process, procurement conduct and therefore every contract entered into and tender awarded by SAA must be thoroughly scrutinised through a forensic investigation process leaving no stone unturned. The investigation must focus on the contribution that outsourced functions and services played in plunging SAA into crisis, and on value for money, irregularities, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
Key executive appointments, including but not limited to Chief Restructuring Officer appointed in 2017, interim Chief Financial Officer, SAA Technical Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Commercial Officer, must also be investigated. SAA was handed over into the hands of these “airline turnaround experts”, inclusive of several from abroad, who have evidently failed. The Special National Congress called for accountability on the work of these “airline turnaround experts” and value for the money that they were paid while SAA continued to fall deeper into crisis instead of achieving a turnaround. The investigation must also include possible conflict of interests.
The Special National Congress calls upon all the trade unions organising at SAA to close ranks and work towards saving the Airline, whilst at the same time saving jobs.
The Special National Congress strongly condemned the sabotage at Eskom, which has led to our people being without electricity. The SACP identifies with the painful situation that our people are experiencing as a result of load shedding. The Special National Congress mandated the Central Committee to closely follow the investigation and ensure that the saboteurs are identified and held to account.
The SACP calls upon the state to regulate mining and trade of coal in the interest of national energy security. At the same time, the Special National Congress called upon government to move more decisively in pursuing a just transition to cleaner and renewable energy. Eskom, in a turned around form, must serve as the mainstay of reliable, cleaner, renewable and affordable energy production.
Alliance reconfiguration and state and popular power
The Special National Congress reaffirmed the resolution and declaration adopted by the SACP 14th National Congress resolution on the Party and State and Popular Power and accepted the progress made towards the reconfiguration of the Alliance. We endorsed the Alliance Political Council approved common paper on the reconfiguration, based on the framework presented in the Central Committee Political Report and State of the Organisation Report. We placed emphasis on implementation and further engagements at all levels.
The Special National Congress mandated lower structures of the SACP to submit reports, with recommendations, to the Central Committee if in the course of preparations for the forthcoming 2021 local government elections the letter and spirit of the reconfiguration of the Alliance are being undermined. The Central Committee will evaluate the reports and adopt a way forward. The options available to the Central Committee include allowing electoral contestation in the affected areas within the framework of the 14th SACP National Congress resolution on state and popular power, and based on criteria to be finalised by the Central Committee in 2020.
The Special National Congress emphasised the principles articulated in the Political Report and the common Alliance reconfiguration paper approved by the Alliance Political Council. These include consensus-seeking consultation on the manifesto, policy direction for our shared strategy of struggle and democratic transformation, and deployments and accountability, including recall, as well as Alliance inclusivity and representations in electoral lists. In this regard, the SACP will not support corrupt candidates or candidates emerging from processes that were not Alliance-inclusive, candidates imposed by factions or are not supported by the community.
On our part, as the SACP, we will deepen our programme to build working class power and hegemony in all key sites of struggle and significant centres of power. The Special National Congress reaffirmed the SACP Political Programme, the South African Road to Socialism, including that what the Party seeks to achieve is democratic working class hegemony over the state and society. The immediate tasks of the SACP is to build working class unity and forge a popular Left front as mandated by the 14th SACP National Congress resolution on state and popular power.
The unity of our Party remains sacrosanct. Our resolutions on Party Review and Organisational Renewal call upon us to deepen and defend the unity of the SACP and its vanguard discipline and cohesion, including through institutionalising and intensifying structured political education within the ranks of our Party. We will also intensify mass political education and campaigning, both independently and in joint programmes with our allies.
The Special National Congress strongly condemns the United States driven imperialist destabilisation in parts of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The SACP reaffirms its support for the national sovereignty of the people of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Palestine and Eritrea. We pledge our revolutionary solidarity with the national democratic struggles of the people of Swaziland, South Cameroon, Sudan and Western Sahara.
Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, Central Committee Member and Spokesperson, 12 December 2019