Build a people’s economy, Dismantle state capture networks, Serve the People Selflessly.
SACP 98th anniversary statement, Ermelo, Mpumalanga, 4 August 2019
98th years of the struggle for liberation and socialism
4 August 2019
Tuesday, 30 July 2019 marked the official 98th anniversary of our Party, 98 years of existence and unbroken struggle for liberation and social emancipation by the South African Communist Party (SACP). Indeed our Party is proud that, despite many difficulties and challenges, these have been 98 years of heroic struggle and selfless sacrifice by communists in the struggle for liberation, reconstruction and development of our country.
The SACP has been part of major struggles and achievement of milestones in our anti-colonial and anti-capitalist struggles. Communists have often been the first in battlefields and different sites of struggle. Soon after our founding, the Party threw itself into major trade union struggles, including seeking to redirect the 1922 white mine workers strike, albeit unsuccessfully at the time, towards the development of non-racial working class solidarity.
The Party characterised the underpinnings of the strike as class contradictions and consequent battle between capitalist mine bosses and labour. Worried about and strongly condemning a racial politics, the Communist Party categorically called for workers of South Africa, regardless of race, to unite and fight for common objectives and goals. Our Party was also central in the building of the then largest trade union representing largely black workers, the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, ICU, from the early 1920s.
In the early days of the fledgling but still weak organisations of national liberation, it was our Party that was the first to call for black majority rule in January 1929, also as part of our longer term goal of building a socialist republic of South Africa. There is also no other political party in South Africa that surpasses the role of the SACP in organising black workers into trade unions and in building a progressive trade union movement.
We have maintained these struggles and organisational culture, and that is why we are still in alliance with the ANC as well as COSATU and SANCO. During the 1930s and 1940s, the SACP played a pivotal role in the trade union movement and mass struggles. That is partly the reason why we became the first organisation to be banned by the apartheid regime, in 1950.
Together with the ANC we established uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), with comrades Nelson Mandela and Joe Slovo being its founding commanders. Many communists were among the first to join the ranks of MK and many, and together with their ANC comrades in arms, paid the ultimate price. By the way, by the time the MK was formally established the Communist had already created its units and carried out operations against the apartheid regime. This, as Mandela says in his auto biography, Long Walk to Freedom,contributed by no small measure to the establishment of the MK.
Looking back where we come from, today, as part of our 98th anniversary celebration, we remember all our departed Party members. We commit to honour them by rededicating ourselves in intensifying the struggle for a more radicalised national democratic revolution, our programme for national transformation and development, the most direct route to socialism.
The SACP survived and came out stronger after 40 years of apartheid imposed illegality. We participated actively in the four pillars of our struggle during years of the illegality, including after the ANC was banned. We were there in underground organisation, in the armed struggle, in mass mobilisation, and the international isolation of the apartheid regime. We survived venomous anti-communist ideological offensives of the apartheid regime, including some anti- communist regressive tendencies emerging now and again from within the ranks of our broad liberation movement. We survived all this principally through hard work, selfless commitment and exemplary conduct by communists in the struggle.
The SACP also prides itself for being a Party of theory as well, but not dry theory, but by combining it with action. This year we are also celebrating the 60th anniversary of our theoretical journal The African Communist.
Our Party has grown from strength to strength. We have now surpassed a membership 311, 000, and are still growing. Our core and growing responsibility with regard to the growth of the Party is to ensure that we educate and develop our cadres ideologically, through both theoretical development and practical participation in campaigns, workers and community struggles.
The 1994 democratic breakthrough was not the end but the beginning of a new era for both our country and our Party. Communists are also serving in our government in various responsibilities. Those who say communists must not be in and work for government and state institution, their thinking is no different from that of the apartheid regime. We will continue to serve our government and not for any personal gains but to serve our people selflessly. We will refuse our Party to be captured and be turned into an instrument of primitive accumulation and greed!
We have been making our own contribution both in the theory and practice of our struggle, including gender struggle broadly and struggles against gender based violence. Today we pledge to throw our full weight in building a progressive movement through participation in the ANC Women’s League and programmes to reach out to women in all sectors of our society and wherever they are organised – in the churches, in school governing bodies, in the workplaces, etc.
Widest possible patriotic front
The single biggest immediate threat facing our revolution and our movement is state capture and counter-revolution, the latter now is seemingly emanating from within rather than outside our own movement. As the SACP we have therefore come to the conclusion that defeating state capture and its networks will require the maximum possible unity of all South Africans to defend our democracy, as the state capture agenda threatens to roll back all the gains we have made since 1994.
The looting and wholesale mortgaging of Eskom, Transnet, SABC, PRASA, Denel and other public entities and state institutions to private interests of greed is in essence the destruction of the capacity of the very democratic state we seek to build. But the struggle against state capture must essentially be based on the intensification of anti-capitalist struggles, as state capture and capitalist greed are inseparable.
It is for these reasons that we have sought to forge and mobilise for maximum unity of a wide range of South Africans in their diversity of independent organisations, into a broad patriotic front in defence of our Constitution and democracy.
The widest possible patriotic front has to be organised in every sector, and in every locality, and in each sphere of power and influence according to its particularities. We have practically demonstrated this already under the leadership of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation which brought together not less than 29 other organisations under the theme #HandsOffOurDemocracy – Confront the state capture fightback; Defend our Democracy. We are going to intensify our participation in this important national programme.
Popular left front
The SACP remains committed to forging a popular left front. Given the many challenges we face, especially on the economic front and the resultant distress in many of our communities, a working class led popular front is essential. At the heart of such a front must be organised formations of the working class, particularly the trade union movement.
The SACP is deeply concerned at the fragmented and fragmenting nature of progressive trade unions in this period in our country. The SACP calls on the progressive trade union movement to at least join together in joint campaigns on issues that are of common interests to the workers and poor of our country. The struggle for jobs, for a comprehensive social security system including the National Health Insurance, and affordable housing for public servants and other workers, as well as the struggles against retrenchment and casualisation, calls for joint actions amongst organised workers. Let the workers put aside their differences and forge a common cause around these and other matters of mutual interests.
Build a people’s economy, solve the problems of the people, and tackle destructive tendencies
South Africa faces one of its most difficult economic periods in recent times, and therefore workers cannot afford to be divided. Workers need to rather unite on immediate and other short-, medium- and long-term demands. In this regard, we have defined our key immediate task, as that of moving the national democratic revolution on to a second, more radical phase, and advance, deepen, defend the revolution and intensify the overall course of the advance to socialism. The working class as a whole needs to unite and rally behind these strategic objectives and goals.
Our country is also facing the economy that has been in stagnation at least for the past decade, with stubborn persistence of poverty, inequality, unemployment and violence particularly against women. At the moment, despite the massive commendable democratic gains and social achievements that millions of our people have realised since 1994, the economic challenges may overwhelm the progress made if we do not change the situation.
Our economic stagnation was compounded, in the first quarter of this year, by a decline of 3.2 per cent in gross domestic product. The state of the economy, as the foundation on which the entire political and social structure of our society is based, has serious implications for transformation and development.
Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey twice this year. The last employment-unemployment statistics released on Tuesday, 30 July 2019, show that total unemployment, which includes discouraged work seekers, rose to approximately 10.3 million people, from just under 10 million people in the first quarter of this year. The expanded unemployment rate of women, at 42.5 per cent, is higher than the expanded unemployment rate of men, which is 35 per cent. In general, a high total unemployment rate is bad for the affected workers, state revenue and government commitments.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, published by StatsSA on Tuesday, in the second quarter of this year, mine bosses retrenched 36, 000 workers, transport bosses dismissed 24, 000 workers, trade bosses retrenched 11, 000, while finance bosses and bosses in other sectors dismissed 8, 000. In total, 49, 000 workers were retrenched in only three months from April to June. Capitalist bosses retrench workers in defence of profitability, as part and parcel of their profit making and maximisation strategies.
The SACP wishes to reject the charge by some of the parasitic networks that our economy is in difficulties because President Ramaphosa is not implementing the ANC resolutions. This charge is nothing but part of the fightback campaign trying to derail the campaign led by the President to clean our state and its institutions. The SACP welcomes and support the effort led by the President to clean SARS, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Public Investment Corporation and many state owned companies, public institutions and public entities. If anything the economic challenges we face are a direct result of the effects of state capture and its associated governance decay, over and above lack of structural radical transformation in the past and the ongoing endemic global capitalist system crisis.
The SACP welcomes the effort led by the President to mobilise both foreign and domestic investment into our economy, especially the productive sector to create decent work and employment for the unemployed. We further call upon the financial sector in our country to release investment funds stimulate the productive sector and our economy at large. The SACP is calling for an end to the investment strike by sections of capital since 1994.
The SACP also supports the establishment of dedicated investment into infrastructure by government, with the R100-billion being set aside for such investment. However, we urge government to look for additional resources for investment into infrastructure as one of the most important interventions to grow, diversify and transform our economy.
The SACP further calls upon all its structures to return to the areas in which we were campaigning for an ANC electoral victory to tackle all the problems that were identified by our people. We must not be seen to be mobilising our people only when we need the vote. After the vote we must continuously work together with our people to change their lives for the better. We call upon all our councillors across the country to convene quarterly meetings in their wards and communities to report back to the people, solicit mandates and work together with the people to address the problems they face. Today we make a clarion call to our members: “Every communist must be a community activist”.
Today, as the SACP, we also call upon our public sector unions to deal with those in their ranks who are not pulling their wait in servicing the workers and our people at large. Surely it cannot be right for an elderly person to go and queue at a Home Affairs or SASSA office for four hours only to be returned home when she reaches the counter and directed to return on another day. Surely it cannot be that working class communities sometimes feel better served by private banks than the public service. We are of course aware of the many challenges facing the public service. These must be addressed by government, but let us nevertheless raise the bar and for working class communities feel better served.
We further call upon our structures and generally cadres of the movement to grow their weight in building township and village economies. Let us build co-operatives to provide the many community services needed in our localities, and the government must empower the co-operatives. Let communists also take a lead in cleaning up our residential areas; our township and villages are just too dirty.
The job loss bloodbath – private wealth accumulation a key driver
Linked with this reality of retrenchments, there is a deepening and widening mega-current that we need to highlight. This is, namely, the restructuring of the technical conditions of production, through among others work reorganisation, automation and robotisation, or, if you will, the deepening and widening digital industrial revolution (DIR). The development and employment of technology and scientific solutions in production is by the way important for human society as a whole. The problem is that, under the conditions of the prevailing capitalist system of production, capitalist bosses employ technological changes and scientific breakthroughs in the interests not of the workers and society at large but in the interests of private accumulation of the wealth produced by labour.
In the end, the economic ruling class displays no regard to the plight of the workers, who they do not mind retrenching, as well as their dependents, all in pursuit of profit maximisation. To be a capitalist is to be capital personified. And as we all know, capital is heartless. Let us look at what its political representative said in reaction to the increase in the second quarter unemployment rate reported by the StatsSA in its Quarterly Labour Force Survey.
The DA called on government to also retrench its workers. They claimed that this is a solution and will contribute in reducing unemployment. The DA reflects another tendency that must be exposed. Theirs is not necessarily a refusal to engage in class analysis. On the contrary, they produce what they believe is best for the class of the bosses against the working class, and their strategy comprises exclusively blaming the ANC-led government. They do not care about, not to mention the endemic crisis of the international context, the rest of the South African history, its connection and manifestation to our present economic realities.
Our immediate organisational tasks – Combat factionalism and confront the state capture fightback
If our movement and alliance is to achieve many of the goals elaborated by our shared theory of struggle, by our people, we must fight and combat factionalism in our ranks. Given some of the very serious challenges facing all of our organisations, but especially the ANC, let us go and swell the ranks of the ANC. Where some of those branches are closed because of gate-keeping, let us confront the gate-keeping head on and intensify community mobilisation for local development. Our primary task must be to reach out to and root ourselves in every community
Often factionalism is fuelled by fights over positions through capture of our movement, with money underpinning the fights and being used to oil this factionalism. That is why the fight against factionalism must also be combined with the struggle against corruption and fight against the state capture fightback and the efforts by its networks against cleaning of the state and our organisation of all the dirt and the rot.
We have no other choice but victory. Corporate capture of the state and sections of our movement, including certain leaders and members, down to the grassroots, has driven public entities and key state institutions into multiple financial and structural crises as we have pointed out. State capture has weakened a number of state organs. Our country has lost billions of rand as a result of the corruption and its networks of patronage, factionalism and fightback. This is the context in which internal divisions in our movement have become deeply entrenched. We need to double our efforts in order to deal a blow to these destructive tendencies in all their manifestations.
We must also refuse to be defocused from the tasks of uprooting state capture and dealing decisively with other forms of corruption. That is why we must not allow ourselves to be diverted by spurious 30 year old claims about spies in our ranks. The sole aim of these claims is to defocus us and cause internal conflict and confrontation inside our movement. Our focus must remain on dismantling state capture networks and defeating their fightback. We must support the work of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, consistently until it delivers on its mandate successfully. We must tackle all forms of diversion, regardless of who is involved in the diversionary propaganda and its activities.
As communists and other progressive activists we cannot turn our back against our movement, in particular the ANC, and hope that problems will disappear if we walk away from it. It is our view that if the immediate task facing us is to save the national democratic revolution; we need to help save the ANC from itself as well. As communists we must not act fractionally, as members of the ANC in our own right we must all times seek to promote and defend its unity. But we are clear; there can be no unity with the parasitic networks. What we need to advance is principled and programmatic unity rather than false unity.
The SACP is also continuing to push the reconfiguration of our alliance in favour of true unity and as a basis for taking forward the national democratic revolution. The alliance must work in line with the times and also cleanse itself of all regressive tendencies. For instance as we move towards local government elections, we have made a decision that whilst our alliance needs to be maintained but as the SACP we are not going to support or campaign for imposed and unpopular candidate councillors.
An important aspect of strengthening our organisations is to intensify political education not just in the SACP but also in our movement as a whole. We will be focusing on training political educators so that we have a cadre that is capable of conducting political education. An educated cadre and membership is an important part of fighting against all regressive tendencies inside our movement, including state capture, other forms of corruption and factionalism.
There is just no turning back.
We dare fail the future of our society!
On this occasion of celebrating our 98th anniversary, we also commit ourselves to intensify our international solidarity activities. The wars and imperialist aggression perpetrated by the United States, and its imperialist allies and agents, in many parts of the world have caused serious problems and degradation. We only have to look into Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and many other countries. We wish to condemn the current aggressive manoeuvres by the United States imperialism to attack Iran.
We further call upon the United States and its imperialist allies to stop their attacks against, and provoking a coup and overthrow of the democratically elected government of Venezuela. We also wish to further commit ourselves to intensifying our solidarity with Cuba, the Palestinian people, and the Saharawi people, the people of Swaziland, among others.
Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, National Spokesperson & Head of Communications, 4 August 2019