There can be no real freedom under capitalism - Blade Nzimande

SACP GS says tells SACCAWU they must be alert to efforts by right-wing forces to capture progressive trade union movement

South African Communist Party

Intensify working class struggle to end exploitation and private monopoly dominance!

Address by Cde Blade Nzimande, Party General Secretary 

South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union National Congress

Tshwane, 23 November 2017

[Acknowledgements and revolutionary greetings on behalf of the SACP]

There can be no freedom under economic exploitation!

Private accumulation of wealth on a capitalist basis is not meant to improve working conditions and workers’ standards of living. The hospitality sector, including hotels and restaurants, and the retail sector, represent two of the typical examples of the worst forms of exploitation facing workers on a daily basis. Notwithstanding the commendable struggles fought by workers, including the heroic leadership provided by Saccawu, the overall direction at the workplace remains firmly in the hands of capitalist bosses.

The capitalist bosses are interested in one thing and one thing only. They are interested in achieving self-enrichment by exploiting workers economically and achieving political and wider social control over society. This has generated social insecurity among workers, regardless of whether they are still employed, compared to those who have already been retrenched.  

The segmentation of workers by the capitalist bosses who have increased and continue to increase temporary, casual, part-time and labour brokered categories of workers compared to permanent workers, has deepened labour exploitation and manufactured social insecurity among workers. This is not done merely to build the so-called flexibility to respond to fluctuating capitalist market conditions. It is a strategy by the capitalist bosses to reduce workers’ share of production and trade income. The savings are diverted to profit maximisation and private capital accumulation.

The shift from the relatively stable, permanent employment to temporary, casual, part-time and labour brokered employment relationships is entrenched in the hospitality sector, among others. And, wherever it has taken root, the displacement of workers from permanent to less secure, to irregular and precarious employment relationships, has taken away hard-won gains from labour. The conditions of the affected workers are generally inferior, compared to permanent workers.

In many restaurants, for instance, there are workers who make more than their wages from their tips. The restaurants have been converted into a space where the workers appear like tenants and make a living from, or rely more on tips rather than on paid work – adequately remunerated.  This same phenomenon is found in the wholesale and retail sector, at the malls, where there are car guards who rely exclusively on tips from motorists. Over and above that the workers are made to pay back a portion of their tips for the car parks.

Unionisation has been made difficult in certain segments of the hospitality sector because of enclosed and heavily guarded workplaces partly associated with night shifts. Sexual abuse in this sector is another serious problem that requires a dedicated attention. Shift configurations, in addition to lack of reliable and safe public transport system, are exploited by fringe elements who abuse women sexually and otherwise at work, in transportation and in the community.

Deepen the struggle against exploitation; confront patriarchy and gender-based violence!

On behalf of the SACP I would like to invite Saccawu to form part of and swell the ranks of our Red October Campaign 2017-18. The campaign is organised under the theme: “Stop gender-based violence; Red card against women abuse!” Our objective is to transform this theme into an everyday programme, of a broad patriotic movement, not for a few days, but for the whole year, annually, until we have dislodged patriarchal domination.

Working together we can end patriarchy and women abuse. Saccawu has experience in this field of work. This will be highly appreciated in a broad patriotic front to bring to an end gender-based violence; to bring to an end women abuse; to bring to an end the abuse of children, both girls and boys; to bring to an end the abuse of people with albinism; to bring to an end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community. This campaign needs to find expression across the whole of society, in the household, in the community, at work and wherever people come together in societal activities. Our struggle for liberation and social emancipation cannot be complete with an end to patriarchy, inequality and economic exploitation.

Fighting patriarchy and building a strong socialist orientation, and this is in line with Saccawu’s founding principles, is as important as reaching out to, and organising every worker without regard to their political affiliation. It is important to continue fighting for improvements in employment and working conditions, and to intensify the struggle.

The struggle against exploitation and private monopoly requires a socialist orientation in order to succeed!

It is important to continue the struggle to ban labour brokers, modern day slave masters. It is important to fight for the enforcement of equal pay for work of equal value, regardless of whether a worker is on a permanent or, where reasonable and acceptable, fixed term contract of employment. It is important to fight for an end to temporarisation and casualisation of work as a strategy by capitalist bosses to deepen labour exploitation, undercut workers’ income and erode workers’ benefits.

However, we must intensify this struggle bearing in mind that there can be no real freedom, social emancipation, an end to economic exploitation, under capitalism. It is very crucial to guard against right-wing deviations. We must be alert to efforts by right-wing forces to capture the progressive trade union movement and divert and liquidate its class orientation towards right-wing agendas. This is one of the reasons why Saccawu should build itself as an ever stronger, progressive, class oriented, trade union to resist both economic and political exploitation and serve as part and parcel of dependable social forces for democratic revolutionary transformation.

Critical sectors in which Saccawu organises are under private monopoly dominance. These include the wholesale and retail sector. There are a handful of large chain stores that dominate the sector. These include corporations that, over and above exploiting workers, seek to entrench their dominance in every sphere of workers lives, including education and training, as well as related establishments such as sector education and training authorities.

The monopolies are blocking democratic transformation (in every sphere) leading to de-monopolisation. South Africa is presently going through a boom in malls. In every town or community where a new mall is built, it is the same private monopoly corporations that take control of wholesale and retail. It is the same private monopoly capital that is destroying conditions for small enterprises and co-operatives to thrive.

The progressive trade union movement must be wary of monopolies seeking co-operation to advance their dominance, capital accumulation and deepen labour exploitation. It is crucial, on the contrary, to deepen the struggle for an end to private monopoly domination and intensify the struggle for decent work. It is essential to deepen the struggle to reduce and ultimately end labour exploitation by capital altogether with class inequality.

Let us deal decisively with state capture, advance and deepen the second radical phase of our national democratic revolution!

Without ending private monopoly dominance, radically reducing and ultimately ending the exploitation of labour by capital, there is no way we will deepen our democracy and develop it to its full potential. There is no way we will end poverty without radically reducing, and ultimately ending, class inequality. There is no way we will radically reduce the persisting high unemployment level without going to the root, without decisively tackling class inequality and imperialist exploitation of our country. There is no way we will succeed to build an egalitarian society without intensifying anti-capitalist struggles, and without ultimately bringing the system of capitalist exploitation to an end.

As part and parcel of the struggle, we must tackle corporate capture both within the ranks of our movement, including in trade unions, therefore end business unionism, and in the state. We must tackle, head-on, the parasites and private monopoly capital, as well as those that they have captured both within the leadership and rank and file of our movement and in the state.

The parasites and their networks of collusion have detonated Denel into unravelling looting manoeuvres involving some Asia what-what private company linked with the Guptas. It is parasites and their networks of patronage that have transmitted the SABC into a crisis of insolvency. The parasites and their networks of looters have generated a financial crisis at Eskom, including through unexplained payments and payments for nothing. It is parasites that forced Prasa off the road and Transnet off the rail and both into crisis. It is parasitic conduct and associated governance decay that flew SAA into a financial crisis. The list is obviously longer.

In short, the productive sector of the state, a key instrument that South Africa needs to advance democratic transformation and development, is being destroyed on the altar of greed, private corporate, personal, family and factional interests, and, obviously visible on the surface, incompetence.  This does not go alone.

Key state authorities established with the mandate of investigating corruption appear to be turning a blind eye to the rot. There are foreign authorities that have already acted in their respective countries against some of the corruption that took place in South Africa. Our own relevant authorities have not produced anything to prosecute that very same corruption.

Very recently, the Minister of Police publicly disclosed that criminal elements have infiltrated the Police. As the SACP we are convinced that not every police official/officer is captured. There are still Police officials/officers who perform their work diligently. Let us therefore posit the vexing question with regards to those in the Police Service who have been captured:

What about corporate state capturers if mere criminal elements can infiltrate the Police Service?

From the point of view of this question, it is reasonable to hypothetically conclude that inaction – against state capture and its underpinning corruption – by key investigative authorities is not by default but by design. By design the hypothetical reference is to the artwork of corporate capturers and the authorities that they have captured. 

There is no way the national democratic revolution will succeed without decisively dealing a blow to state capture and its underlying corruption and plundering of public resources! If the national democratic revolution does not bring an end to the rot the rot will destroy the revolution.   

As part of our immediate tasks to tackle the rot, we must push for the reconfiguration of our alliance. The alliance’s prevailing modus operandi has failed to deal decisively with the rot and to defend the national democratic revolution from the counter-revolution of state capture. The functioning of the alliance appears to have been worsened deliberately – as a precursor to the ongoing rot to prevail. The principles of collective leadership, democratic consensus-seeking consultation on all major policy and related deployments decisions, and accountability, have been violated with impunity.

Instead of dealing robustly with the rot, there is a new tendency of apologists condoning it. It is unreasonable to expect the SACP to be part of this arrangement. There is no way the alliance will hold together its components and motive forces of our revolution, going forward, without being reconfigured. The time for all of us to periodically come together to win elections only for one alliance partner alone, or worse for an individual or faction, to make policy and deployment decisions, is over!

The alliance will become successful if it is seen working together both in decision-making and implementation in the state and in society building people’s power to deliver on the Freedom Charter’s clarion principle that “The people shall govern!” The importance of internal alliance democracy and democratic people’s power to the workers and the working class as a whole cannot be overemphasised. Without democracy, workers and working class aspirations will continue to be marginalised. In contrast, the parasites and their political networks will thrive!

We cannot accept a situation where some in the state behave as if they campaigned alone to win elections without the alliance and the motive forces of our revolution, including the electorate. We have adopted a resolution at our 14th Party Congress in July, to actively contest elections, either within or without the umbrella of a reconfigured alliance. In other words there is no other option but to actively contest elections directly and/or through a popular left front if the alliance is not reconfigured and its outdated mode of operation prevails. As a working class Party the SACP will not move alone. This is why consultation is crucial in our approach. Next month our Augmented Central Committee will consider and adopted a roadmap to give effect to the resolution. We will be consulting extensively with worker and progressive formations as well as with our allies.

We have taken a decision to contest elections in the Metsimaholo municipality given the many problems that have been ravaging the workers, the people and the alliance in that area. We are going to Metsimaholo today not to withdraw from contesting the elections but to say to comrades: “Please do not fight each other. This is a democratic process. As the SACP, approached by and in consultation with communities, we are contesting the municipal elections to be held next week on 29 November”.  

Lessons from Zimbabwe

The SACP has consistently been interacting with Zimbabweans, including the Zimbabwe Communist Party. It was very clear 17 years ago already that there were divisions and a widening gap between the former liberation movement led by ZANU-PF and the motive forces of the struggle for complete liberation and social emancipation.

The underlying problems were economic problems, and they were not created entirely from within Zimbabwe or after independence. The problems were fundamentally a result of many years of colonial domination by Britain and imperialist exploitation of the people of Zimbabwe and their basic national wealth. They were also created by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The two Bretton Woods institutions usurped Zimbabwe’s economic policy-making sovereignty. In line with their anti-democratic conduct, they imposed a neoliberal economic policy regime that was implemented uncritically (with Zimbabwe presented as a role model) and ruined the economy of Zimbabwe. But, and related to the economic problems, there were organisational and leadership problems as well.

The lessons for democratic forces both in Zimbabwe and South Africa is that we must build and strengthen the motive forces of our struggle for complete liberation and social emancipation on the ground and selflessly serve the people wholeheartedly.

On behalf of the Communist Party I would like to wish your deliberations and Congress a success!

Thank you, comrades!  

Issued by the SACP, 23 November 2017