South African Communist Party
Statement of the Sixth Plenary Session of the SACP 14th National Congress Central Committee
The SACP held its final Central Committee meeting for 2018 over the weekend of November 23rd to 25th in Benoni, Ekurhuleni. This year-end meeting is an augmented CC, in line with established practice, to include a wider representation from SACP provinces and districts, as well as from the Young Communist League of South Africa.
General Secretary, Cde Blade Nzimande, presented the political report noting major, if uneven progress, in the South African political situation since our last Augmented CC in December 2017. The December 2017 Augmented CC was convened at an extremely dangerous moment for our young constitutional democracy.
The reckless corporate capture and parasitic looting of key state-owned corporations was in full swing. The perversion of critical institutions in the criminal justice system and of the South African Revenue Services was at an advanced state. The ANC was deeply divided and its divisions were impacting upon the effective functioning of the Alliance.
Inevitably these extremely negative developments served to worsen the social and economic plight of the great majority of South Africans, especially the working class and poor. They also created the space for all manner of demagogic and populist grievance-driven forces, often masking their own primitive accumulation agenda behind the false flag of a pseudo-leftism.
Through the course of 2017 the SACP was the leading formation within the Alliance in fighting against these deeply negative trends. It was the SACP’s organisational reach that gave support and a morale boost to the many honest ANC cadres on the ground, in legislatures and even in government in the fight against corporate capture.
At our December 2017 Augmented CC, the SACP resolved to consolidate an active platform to deal decisively with corporate capture, including:
- The dismissal of implicated cabinet ministers and officials;
- The recall of Jacob Zuma as state president;
- The prosecution of those implicated in state capture;
- The cleaning up of SARS, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Hawks, the State Security Agency, and the boards and senior management of key SOCs;
- The cancellation of major looting contracts; and
- The establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.
Across the board there is major, if uneven, progress in terms of this entire platform. In February, Zuma was forced to resign faced with the imminent prospect of being removed by Parliament. SACP activism within Parliament working closely within the ANC caucus played a major role in this development. Since February, 12 ministers have been removed.
There are major steps at cleaning up SARS (Tom Moyane has gone); in the NPA (Shaun Abrahams has gone); in the Hawks (Ntlemeza has gone); in the SSA (Arthur Fraser has been removed and a R4-billion slush fund closed down); boards of SOCs have been cleaned up and key senior management removed; the nuclear deal has been blocked; and the Zondo judicial commission of inquiry into state capture is under way. It is a commission which the SACP was the first to call for.
The unfolding of these processes are also daily exposing the real nature of the EFF. The SACP has, from the outset, characterised the EFF as a rival but mirror-image of the Zuma-Gupta primitive accumulation project. All along the SACP characterised the EFF as a bullying, proto-fascist formation flying the false flag of a pseudo-leftism.
As the pressure mounts on the Zuma-Gupta axis, so it mounts on the EFF as well. The EFF springs to the defence of those who have crippled SARS. It tries to undermine the Zondo commission of inquiry. It rants against those who have played key roles in exposing corruption and looting – including journalists, Cde Pravin Gordhan and Cde Solly Mapaila, the SACP’s first deputy general secretary.
The SACP joins the great majority of fellow South Africans in condemning the utterly despicable racist and chauvinistic manner in which the EFF has been conducting its desperate attempt to subvert our democracy in order to cover up its own activities. The SACP reaffirms its principled support for Cde Gordhan, and other public officials who in the face of bullying have demonstrably shown commitment to the just fight against state capture and other forms of corruption.
Cde Gordhan in his various official capacities, notably as SARS Commissioner, played a leading role in exposing massive looting that occurred within the Limpopo Provincial government when Julius Malema was still the ANC Youth League President. South Africans must never forget the report of the Public Protector into some of this malfeasance. In the “On the Point of Tenders” report, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela exposed Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust as the fat spider at the heart of a web of looting in Limpopo. Only the subversion of our criminal justice system can explain why criminal prosecution against Malema has not been pursued. No wonder the EFF is now desperately trying to undermine attempts to clean up our criminal justice system.
On the VBS matter, the SACP reaffirms our earlier statements. The SACP did not receive any donation from VBS or its share-holder Vele Investments. The SACP did receive a donation for our 14th National Congress in July 2017 from MML Food Services. At the time of receipt the SACP had no knowledge of any relationship between MML and VBS. In response to our legal enquiry, we have since received written confirmation that MML is not a subsidiary of VBS, or any of VBS or Vele Investments subsidiaries. In the light of the seriousness of the allegations, the SACP has lodged a complaint with the Press Council Ombud. The SACP looks forward to a speedy resolution of this matter by the Press Council Ombud.
However, the most ridiculous feature of the smear campaign run against the SACP in this matter is that we are supposed to have taken the money in exchange for going soft on the Guptas! The July 2017 SACP Congress marked a high-point of the SACP’s principled condemnation of the Guptas, of Zuma and of all of their hangers-on.
The SACP stands by the statement it publicly released in response to the report of the investigation of VBS conducted by Advocate Terry Motau, on behalf of the SA Reserve Bank. We reaffirm our stance that everybody who benefitted illegally from VBS must be held accountable to the full extent of the law.
The struggle against state capture must be intensified…but the struggle against corruption is not enough!
The enduring social and economic crisis facing the majority of South Africans and especially the working class and poor has, undoubtedly, been aggravated by state capture. But crisis levels of unemployment, poverty, inequality and violence (particularly directed against women and children) are also connected to the persistence of the neo-liberal, macro-economic strait-jacket within which our economy has been confined for over two decades.
The SACP is not oblivious to the potential risks of South Africa’s public debt to GDP ratio. Although our debt is around the median for a peer group of countries, and although, in our case, 90% of this debt is, fortunately, Rand-denominated – as a country we are vulnerable to the inordinate power exerted by the ratings agencies on “investor sentiment”. Reckless conduct on this front could lead to the further undermining of our already limited national sovereign policy-making space.
However, the flip-side of this is another and even graver threat. As Marx long ago asserted “the national debt is the golden chain by which the bourgeoisie controls the state.” The continued imposition of neo-liberal austerity macro-economic measures will not propel our economy onto a new path of sustainable, job-creating and inclusive growth. Instead, these policies will continue to undermine the scaling-up of active industrialisation, and of a major social and economic infrastructure stimulus intervention.
Leading forces within Treasury and the SA Reserve Bank continue to cling to a neo-liberal orthodoxy that no longer exists in much of the rest of the world. Even the World Bank and IMF are acknowledging the need for heterodox thinking. As the SACP we strongly distance ourselves from cheap populist rhetoric, like the statement that “if the Rand falls we will pick it up”, or the entirely irrelevant call for the Reserve Bank to be “nationalised”. The curiosity of the Reserve Bank having private share-holders (who want to be bought out, by the way, at public expect) is irrelevant to the substantial issues – since these shareholders have zero role in policy-making. But we reject the attempt to portray any genuine attempt to open up a constructive discussion of alternative macro-economic policy as “populist”.
Among other things, the SACP is calling for the Reserve Bank’s mandate to explicitly include employment, with a consequential amendment to the Reserve Bank Act. While the operational independence of the Reserve Bank should be respected, our constitution does NOT recognise policy independence for the Bank. The policy mandate of the SARB must be aligned to the democratically elected government’s developmental priorities – and not the reverse.
Financial sector transformation
The CC has called for the convening of the Financial Sector Summit as matter of urgency. The first Financial Sector Summit was held more than a decade ago and there has not been any substantive progress. Any further postponement on the convening of the second Financial Sector Summit will therefore be intolerable. It is a fundamental necessity to transform the system, architecture and landscape of the financial sector to serve the needs of the people and end financial exploitation. The current dire economic environment makes this summit a compelling imperative.
The fourth-industrial revolution
The CC received presentations from Cde Rob Davies, SACP CC member and Minister of Trade and Industry, and Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg on the economic and social challenges we confront in the face of the deepening technological revolution and its impact on work, its future and society.
The so-called fourth industrial revolution needs to be understood in large measure as a capitalist endeavour to surpass its ongoing recession crisis. As in previous cases of technological ruptures under capitalism, the fourth industrial revolution is an attempt to extract higher rates of relative surplus value.
In the abstract, the new technologies have the possibility to advance productivity, release humanity from repetitive toil, improve living standards, reduce the working day and provide innovative solutions to many developmental and social challenges.
However, in the context of capitalist-driven profit maximisation, and the proliferation of “winner takes most markets”, the competitive struggle for hegemony in the fourth industrial revolution, is likely to widen inequalities, create many losers, reduce net employment, and relocate value added production to the major areas of consumption in the richer world.
Like all previous capitalist-driven technological advances, the fourth industrial revolution also carries within it the seeds of the next major economic and social crises. With the mass displacement of workers by robots and the resulting loss of wages – who will buy the increased output of commodities?
South Africa’s further marginalisation within the global division of labour is likely. However, we cannot sit on our hands. There is an urgent need to develop digital industrial strategy, to develop skills and capacities, and to regulate processes that could widen inequality or result in job losses. We must set developmental conditions on firms introducing new technologies, and develop a regulatory framework.
Major court victories against gouging banks – we salute Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation
The CC saluted the role of Lungelo Lethu and the leading role played by SACP housing activist, Cde King Gay Sibiya, in two recent High Court victories against Standard and ABSA banks. Together with Lungelo Lethu, the SACP has been campaigning for years against the practice of the banks working with corrupt officials and private developers to secretly auction off re-possessed homes at far below their real value.
What has been happening is that bond-holders (black and white) fail to maintain their mortgage payments – very often as a result of retrenchments. This may occur after having already paid monthly instalments for many years. When the houses are re-possessed there has been a practice of auctioning them off at way below their value, or original purchase prices. There are many cases of homes bought for R50- R100,000, auctioned off secretly for sums of R10,000 or less. In many cases, the evicted families, if they had known about the auction, would have been able to re-purchase.
In recent cases in both the South Gauteng High Court and the Cape High Court, full benches have roundly condemned these unethical practices, and have ruled that reserve prices must be set in the case of auctioning, and no home make be auctioned off at below such a reserve price. This gouging expropriation of thousands of South Africans households is widespread. The SACP together with Lungelo Lethu and other human rights bodies will be taking these struggles forward.
The CC also expresses its full support to those fighting against gentrification in the Bo-Kaap and Woodstock in Cape Town, and elsewhere in the South Africa.
No to top-down awarding of mining rights over the heads of affected communities!
The CC likewise welcomed the recent decision of the Constitutional Court affirming the principle that communities must be fully consulted before government allows mining companies to operate regardless of the impact on the environment and on community lives.
These are important victories, especially for the people of Xolobeni in their long-standing struggle.
Towards a more effective, re-configured Alliance
The CC welcomed the fact that the ANC has produced a draft discussion paper on a reconfigured alliance as a result our engagements and interventions. All alliance partners agree that our alliance is not functioning in the most effective manner. All agree that there has to be a major change. The Alliance must re-connect more effectively with millions of the masses on the ground and exercise state power in the collective interests of the working class and poor. The SACP will continue to engage in a structured manner with the ANC and our other Alliance partners, COSATU and SANCO, towards a re-configured Alliance.
Our engagement in the 2019 election campaign is informed by the imperative of a reconfigured Alliance process.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence
The CC called on SACP members across the country to intensify their activism in taking forward the Party’s Campaign against gender-based violence. This campaign should support but not be limited to the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. It has to be an everyday campaign to dismantle patriarchy and gender-based stereotypes.
Forthcoming YCLSA national congress
The CC wishes the YCLSA well for its successful national congress to be held at University of Fort Hare on the 6-9thDecember.
Issued by SACP, 25 November 2018