We must not allow the vultures to destroy Eskom - Blade Nzimande

SACP GS says multi-nationals' Alstom and Hitachi are to blame for Medupi's delays

South African Communist Party CENTRAL COMMITTEE

SACP 93rd Anniversary Statement and Message as delivered by the General Secretary Cde Blade Nzimande, August 3 2014

Build working class power in the state, where we live and where we work:

Sunday, 03 August 2014, Polokwane

93 years ago the Communist Party of South Africa, the first Communist Party on the continent of Africa was launched.  93 years later we are here, we are still standing; we are still growing; we are fighting fit. With over 191,000 members we are larger than ever before. We are more influential than at any other time in our history. We remain united, a disciplined and principled vanguard party - a consistent and reliable ally of our strategic partners. We are a party of activism, we are a party of socialism. We are proudly South African, and we are proudly internationalist and anti-imperialist.

We would like to take this occasion of our 93rd Anniversary to express our solidarity with ALL the oppressed people of the world. To them we say we stand by your side, and we are prepared to offer you support to the extent of our ability. We are outraged, in particular, at the continuing vicious campaign waged by apartheid Israel on the Palestinian people, who have been massacred for the crime of demanding their own land and freedom. We condemn this genocidal campaign in the strongest terms possible. 

The SACP as pioneer of non-racialism and progressive trade unionism

We are the Party that pioneered non-racialism in SA - both in principle and in practice. For many decades we were the only political party in SA that had a non-racial membership. In the 1920s, long before the ANC, it was the Communist Party that called for one-person one-vote, majority rule. We are the party that pioneered progressive trade unionism in our country, as well as progressive journalism.

We are the Party that organised in struggle the unity between the working class and the rural peasantry - the great Alpheus Madiba, Govan Mbeki and Gert Sibande, the Lion of the North, were among the communists who combined the struggles of workers and those of the deep rural areas. It was communists, like JB Marks who built the tradition of mine-worker unionism, overcoming the tribalisation that the mining houses sought (and still seek) to impose on workers in order to divide-and-rule. In practice over the decades it was the Communist Party that upheld the values of non-sexism, with outstanding women communists like Dora Tamana and Ray Alexander leading the way.

With the launch of the armed struggle, it was communists who were in the vanguard. The names of numerous communists are listed in the roll-call of honour of martyrs - from Johannes Nkosi, to Vuyisile Mini, to the Lion of Chiawelo, to Chris Hani.

Our colours are red - not as a fashion statement. They are red because our banners have been dipped in the blood of our martyrs. We are proud of the large number of communists who served as MK commanders, platoon leaders, Commissars in Chief, camp commissars, and rank and file soldiers. Communists served in MK in order to bring politics into an armed struggle. Those who held ranks in the People's Army had earned them, and they were part of a collective - and not a personality cult. We politicised the people's army in a time of military struggle for the realisation of national liberation. We never militarised politics especially not in a time of development and construction. And we never confused hooliganism with radicalism. 

But today, as we recall this proud history, we must also understand that our history, our unity, our strategic vision, and our considerable influence, all of these place upon us critical responsibilities here in the present.

And this is our central message today, to all communist cadres, to our broader movement, and to our country: LET US RE-BUILD THE UNITY AND COHESION OF OUR TOWNSHIPS, OF OUR VILLAGES AND OUR WORK-PLACES. LET US BUILD TRULY POST-APARTHEID HUMAN SETTLEMENTS.


Combine working class and state power to drive the second phase

LET US STRENGTHEN STATE POWER WITH PEOPLE'S POWER. LET US USE STATE POWER TO RE-INFORCE PEOPLE'S POWER. Popular forces in our communities must work with and claim the state - not walk away from it. On the other hand, without popular power reinforcing the state, the state itself - no matter who wins elections - is vulnerable to hijacking.

This is the only way we can defeat monopoly capital. This is the only way we can roll back the tyranny of the market.

To carry forward these tasks we must also defeat the anti-majoritarians in the DA and in much of the commercial media. Ever since 1994 they have sought to de-value and de-legitimise the popular electoral conquest of state power.  They have sought to down-size and de-legitimise the public sector. They have sought to unleash the dictatorship of the market and the private profiteers over popular sovereignty. They have sought to weaken our democratic state and our democratic mandate through liberalisation, privatisation, and labour brokering. They try to weaken our resolve to carry through with our democratic mandate by warning of dire threats from ratings agencies. Monopoly capital has disinvested nearly a quarter of our total GDP over the past 20 years. They perpetuate their investment strike that has lasted at least seven years - and then they blame workers for striking for three weeks.

They are aided and abetted in this strategic agenda by those in the state who are corrupt, by politicians who are tenderpreneurs, by careerists, by public servants who are rude to those whom they should serve, by teachers and health-care workers who are neglectful of their students and patients, by police who act negligently or brutally against civilians. The free marketeers are also aided and abetted by those in the labour movement who turn unionism into factional war-lordism, or into business unionism privatising worker retirement funds for their own profit.

Corruption, tenderpreneuring, bureaucratic neglect, business unionism - these are the allies of the anti-majoritarians, of the Afro-pessimists, of the counter-revolution. They provide free advertising to the market fundamentalists who spread the lie that everything about the public sector and trade unions is bad. We must deal decisively with negative tendencies within the state and our own movement - or they will erode everything that we have fought for.

Lately the anti-majoritarians have been joined by disparate new forces, some posing as radical left-wingers. But there is a common thread connecting them all - they seek to de-legitimise the ANC-led government, a government that has once more just achieved an overwhelming popular electoral mandate.

We must neither exaggerate nor under-rate the dangers of the times in which we are living. The loyalty of the working poor and those living in deep rural areas generally remains with our movement - but it cannot be taken for granted. The persisting triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality creates space for all manner of opportunists. They blame government for everything. They mobilise demagogically, making impossible demands that lead desperate communities into the jaws of defeat from which the working class will struggle for years to recuperate- as has happened on the platinum belt.

It is in this context that, as an Alliance, we have agreed that it is imperative that we embark upon a second, radical phase of our democratic revolution.

But what is this second, more radical, phase?

But what do we mean by "a second radical phase of the National Democratic Revolution"? Across our broad movement and indeed in government, comrades are turning to the SACP to assist in developing an understanding of a second radical phase, an understanding that has serious content - so that it is not just a slogan. And it is here that the Party's policies and programmes, notably SARS - the South African Road to Socialism - become absolutely central. SARS precisely seeks to map out a radical approach to the NDR in our current reality.

In the first place, what do we mean by RADICAL? Check the dictionary, you will see that radical doesn't mean anarchy or hooliganism, it means getting to the root of things. In our situation being radical must mean getting to the root of why 20 years into democracy crisis levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality are still being reproduced.

In SARS we provide a very clear response. The triple crisis is because we haven't placed our economy and wider society on to a different growth and development path:

Our economy is still dominated by the interests of private monopoly capital - particularly, but not only, in the mining, energy and finance sectors. Our exports are dominated by largely un-beneficiated minerals.

Over the past 20 years we have actually de-industrialised with tens of thousands of jobs lost in the manufacturing sector.

Large monopolies crowd out small and medium enterprises.

Apartheid geography continues to wreak havoc in our towns and cities and in our rural areas - the working class and poor are located far away from work opportunities, resources and amenities. We have removed racial Group Areas, but the private property market creates an even greater wall between rich and poor, as estate agents and so-called property developers transform public spaces into golf-courses and shopping malls.

We have four banking oligopolies that are not investing in our developmental priorities, but they fund consumption, often with reckless lending, and a strong role played by omashonisas. Some of our banks have themselves dipped into being omashonisa.

But the situation is not helpless. Over the past 5 years we have seen important steps being taken to place our economy onto a different developmental path:

The state-led Industrial Policy Action Plan has given a major boost to key manufacturing sectors and to jobs in these sectors - notably the auto-sector and the clothing and textile sector which was close to extinction a few years ago.

These state led industrialisation programmes are further supported by the localisation drive in particular (and once more this is state-led) by leveraging state procurement to create local manufacturing and local jobs. We have set a 75% local target for state procurement.

Further supporting re-industrialisation is the major emphasis the democratic state has now placed on skills and training for the productive economy - with a particular focus on the expansion of FET colleges.

The trillion-rand state-spend on infrastructure is the largest amount ever spent on infrastructure in SA in real terms. The massive infrastructure programmes under-way under the leadership of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission are designed to transform SA's geography - bringing jobs and development to regions that have been marginalised. An excellent example of this is Strategic Integrated Project 1, unlocking the northern mineral belt here in Limpopo. The area is rich in platinum, coal, chromite and palladium, but it has not been developed because it requires energy, water, and rail logistics - and all of these require coordination. This is what is underway as we speak - and, once again, it is only a developmental state using its strategic state owned enterprises (notably in this case Eskom and Transnet) that is capable of unlocking the potential. Left to the market nothing would happen.

However, the massive PICC-led infrastructure build is not just about industrial development, it is also focused on transforming our towns, cities and villages. Building new integrated patterns of urban development and connecting remote rural villages to roads, and providing clinics, schools, colleges to areas that have been neglected in the past.

What is more, we are also connecting the infrastructure build programme to stimulating local manufacture. In the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup we had to import all the BRT buses we needed in Johannesburg and Cape Town from Brazil. Now we are manufacturing them locally.

We could go on listing things like this, but what we have said so far should be enough to make two basic points:

One - the constant anti-ANC government onslaught which seeks to sow despondency and a sense that all of government and everyone in government is corrupt, lazy and useless is a lie. It's a lie that has an agenda - to downsize and roll-back a developmental state, in order to create space for private profit-maximisation at the expense of the working class and poor.

Two - the idea of a radical second phase of the NDR is not just an idea. A radical second phase is already underway - in the rolling Industrial Action Plans, in the efforts to ensure localisation, in the massive Presidential-led economic and social infrastructure build, in the vast expansion of skills training. These are the beginnings of the second phase. They and much more must now be up-scaled, advanced, coordinated AND defended.

Defend the Developmental State, Defend ESKOM, no to privatisation!!

Nothing is irreversible. As we advance, the class struggle will intensify. One major front of this class struggle is now shaping up on the energy front.

Back before 1994 SA had surplus electricity capacity and amongst the cheapest electricity in the world - but this was electricity supplied mainly to the mines and smelters and to white suburbs, while our villages and townships relied on paraffin, coal and wood.

The new democratic government used Eskom for a major drive to electrify households. The first household electricity connections began in SA in the 1890s. Between then and 1994, 5 million households were connected to electricity. Since 1994 a further 7 million households have been connected. This means that in 20 years our majority-rule democratic government has connected more households to electricity than it took white minority regimes a whole century...!!

But while we were carrying out this major redistributive effort, government (under the neo-liberal influence of the 1996 class project) neglected the task of building more generating capacity and of refurbishing and expanding the transmission and distribution network. Eskom engineers warned of the approaching capacity problems. But their warnings were disregarded by the 1996 class project - they believed that Eskom could be privatised and that would solve future problems. In the late 1990s and early 2000s there was a drive to sell off Eskom. But there were no private sector buyers - for the simple reason that Eskom's regulated prices and developmental responsibilities meant that there were no fat profits to be made.

Valuable time was lost while the 1996 class project vainly tried to attract buyers. Eventually this policy was reversed, but by this time many skills had been lost in Eskom - the last major power station had commenced construction back in the 1970s. And so when it came to building major new power stations - Medupi and Kusile - Eskom's own in-house construction and project management skills were depleted. This has been part of the problem behind the delays and cost over-runs at these sites. (Medupi here in Limpopo is, by the way, the largest construction site in the whole of the southern hemisphere).

But the real problem in the delays and cost escalations has been with the private sector contractors. The French multi-national, Alstom's control instrumentation and boiler protection system proved to be seriously faulty. Likewise, thousands of welds on boilers supplied by Hitachi, the Japanese multi-national, were dangerously unserviceable, setting back construction by many months. These are the real culprits -private sector multinationals!!

But, of course, it is Eskom that gets blamed in the media and by the opposition parties. And now the vultures are circulating around Eskom. They want to privatise parts of it. They want to use the financing challenges to cherry-pick. They want to leave Eskom with ageing power-stations while the new ones go to the profit-seekers.

They want to take away transmission from Eskom. Everywhere in the world where electricity grids have been fragmented and turned into for-profit enterprises there have been major breakdowns - including in the richest state in the United States - California. In California electricity was de-regulated and this encouraged market-manipulation in the now infamous Enron scandal. The result was that California experienced multiple major black-outs in 2000 and 2001. Even in the US they have had to reverse their neo-liberal de-regulation of electricity policies.

We must not allow the vultures (including some within our own movement) to destroy Eskom. Instead:

We must now take forward the important capacity that Eskom has re-built through the Medupi process, and through the refurbishment of older power stations. We must not throw these capacities away, and lose another 20 years.

Eskom must be given a mining licence for coal - so that it does not have to depend on profit-maximising private suppliers. Eskom used to have a mining licence, but its old mines are now in the hands of private sector, for-profit mining companies. Ironically, SASOL (long since privatised) still has a mining licence!!

Alternative financing models must be found for municipalities. Municipalities take Eskom electricity and then add an extra amount to the price charged to households and other clients, this has a negative impact on poor communities, and it also often discourages investors from setting up factories in municipalities that charge a premium for electricity. To make matters even worse, there are municipalities that owe Eskom tens of millions of Rands.




Eskom is a critical component of the developmental state that we seek to build. It is a critical element in taking forward a second radical phase of the NDR.

Let us re-build the unity and cohesion of our townships, of our villages and our work-places.

But we will not advance a radical second phase of the NDR just from positions within the state. We need to reinforce the state through building people's power in our townships and villages, and by building workers' power in our work-places.

This means re-building the unity and cohesion of our popular forces. It means fostering a different relationship between the state and popular forces.

We must break with the neo-liberal idea of a "delivery" state in which communities become passive clients and customers of top-down delivery. We need to re-awaken the spirit of popular activism. We need to see government and communities as the CO-OWNERS, as the JOINT-PLANNERS, as the COLLECTIVE MANAGERS of our public resources. Don't burn the library or the community hall - take collective responsibility for planning it, for building it, for maintaining it, for using it.

But we won't build this unity and this cohesion if, between government with its resources, on the one hand, and the interests and aspirations of the community, on the other, there is a ruthless tenderpreneur, or a corrupt politician, or an insensitive bureaucrat.

And this becomes the challenge of our SACP branches on the ground. At our 13th National Congress in 2012 we said that as Communists we would TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE REVOLUTION. It is easy to take a purely oppositionist stance, to demagogically whip up anger and frustration, especially in the midst of the triple crises of poverty, unemployment and inequality. But, as Lenin said, the politics of pure oppositionism, the politics of pure negativity, is infantile. It provides no constructive leadership.

But what does taking responsibility for the revolution mean for SACP branches? It means that we must be among our people. We must listen to and understand their aspirations and their frustrations. We must know our communities. But knowing our communities also means connecting up with, learning from and helping those who are already doing constructive community work - those in community based organisations and NGOs, maybe faith-based organisations, those (they may not be active politically) who are often voluntarily doing home-based care, or rape crisis advice, or running food gardens, or coaching youth at sport. How do we use our access to local government and its resources to build and expand the capacity of those working in these ways? Are there community policing forums, or neighbourhood watches in our townships and villages? Are we active in them? How do we use them to make our communities safer and more united - how do we use them to de-militarise the police? In short, how do we build a different relationship between working class communities and the state? Unless we get this right, we can say goodbye to a second radical phase of the revolution.

In this respect, as the SACP, we see government's Expanded Public Works and Community Work Programmes as one important way of taking this challenge forward. We must see these programmes as much more than just temporary make-work opportunities. Our election manifesto commits us to creating 6-million public employment work opportunities over the next five years. Reaching six million participants will play an important role in augmenting our social grant system, in providing some income relief to poor households. But equally important, we need to understand that what EPWP participants are doing (or should be doing) is real work, creating real value in the assets that are produced and the services that are provided. The DA calls this "not real work" because it is not work for a boss, it is work that produces "use-values" (to use Marx's term) for working class communities and not "exchange-values" for capitalists.

If we are to contribute to building community and working class cohesion it also means that the orientation and emphasis of our work as communists in branches must shift away from a total absorption in the politics of politicians - the politics of lists, of gate-keeping, and of members of members. We must prioritise our work among the people.

And finally, as a critical leg of re-building popular power, the SACP in October will be re-vitalising our financial sector campaign. When we launch (or re-launch) the campaign we will announce fuller details. But an important emphasis will be on the role of the financial sector - both public DFIs (development finance institutions) as well as private financial institutions - in developing working class communities. Despite government guarantees, private sector financial institutions have simply not come to the party in implementing agreements on addressing the "Gap housing market" - the desperate plight of hundreds of thousands of workers who do not qualify for RDP subsidised houses, but who are turned away by the banks when they apply for a housing loan.

As part of our Red October campaign this year we will be calling for a second Financial Sector Summit (ten years after the first one that emerged from our Red October campaign). We must use the Summit to review progress, or lack of progress, in implementation.




Issued by the SACP, August 3 2014

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