SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY
AUGMENTED CENTRAL COMMITTEE STATEMENT
Sunday, 21 March 2021: The South African Communist Party (SACP) Central Committee held a Plenary from Friday to Sunday, 19–21 March 2021. To ensure extensive internal democratic consultation, the SACP augmented its Central Committee Plenary with additional delegates, drawn from provinces, districts, and gender organisers, as well as the Young Communist League of South Africa, the Party’s youth wing. In full recognition of the COVID-19 preventative measures, the SACP held the meeting virtually.
Put people before profits: A human rights-based SACP Centenary theme
The last day of the Central Committee coincided with the 61st year since the Sharpeville Massacre, and the 26th anniversary of the launch of the South African Human Rights Commission and declaration by President Nelson Mandela of 21 March as our annual National Human Rights Day. On this important occasion in our national calendar, the SACP wishes to stress the great importance of its centenary, human rights-based theme—PUT PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS.
We do so in memory of the victims of the Sharpeville Massacre and countless other people who were killed by the apartheid regime for actively supporting our liberation struggle. We also remember the stalwarts who disappeared in the struggle against the apartheid regime because of the actions of its security networks and have since never been found.
In the same vein, next month, 10th April marks the 28th year since the assassination of Chris Hani by Janusz Waluś and Clive Derby-Lewis. All indications from facts are that the convicted assassins were not the only ones involved in the assassination’s chain from its conception. To this day we are however yet to see full disclosure of the truth.
In reaffirming its stance against parole for Waluś and welcoming the recent high court judgement dismissing his parole application, the SACP not only reiterates its call for an inquest to uncover all the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Chris Hani but also calls for a wider inquiry into apartheid killings and disappearances of freedom fighters. This could contribute towards the affected families finding closure.
The SACP sends a stern warning to the factionalists calling themselves members of the so-called “Radical Economic Transformation” (“RET”) who, in pursuit of their factional conduct, use the name of Chris Hani to suggest that they have more information about his assassination while they never approached constitutionally established law enforcement authorities with their information to act. These factionalists have also never taken part in any parole board and court hearing against parole for Waluś.
Support for the Commission of Inquiry into state capture
The Augmented Central Committee emphasised the great importance of the joint SACP and COSATU statement of 16 March 2021, by firmly reaffirming our commitment to the supremacy of our democratically adopted Constitution, primacy of the rule of law, and support for the work of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
Accordingly, the SACP strongly condemns the regrouping of the post-Polokwane New Tendency that now coalesces around attacking the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Elements behind this manoeuvre now appear to be destined for a counterrevolutionary offensive against some of the institutions of our democracy. These elements are deliberately intensifying divisions in our broader movement and sowing society wide chaos, to try and stop the law from taking its course.
The SACP resolutely reiterates its stance, that every person required to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to account for their actions must do so. No person, regardless to their social, political and class standing in our society, must be allowed to hold the development, deepening, and widening of our democracy and accountability at ransom.
The Central Committee called upon the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to leave no stone unturned, in ensuring that those required to appear before it do so. Likewise, the Constitutional Court must firmly exercise its independence against any person who thinks that they are above the rule of law, who defies its judgments.
In the same vein, no democracy can leave unattended the threats for a coup or civil war made from within such quarters. Therefore, the SACP calls upon law enforcement agencies to act decisively against those who have either made or are still making such barbaric threats.
The reactivation of the Defend our Democracy Campaign this week is an important initiative. The SACP is firmly part of the campaign and participated in its reactivation. We invite more South Africans to join in and support the campaign. The last thing South Africa can ever afford is to have those who refuse to be held to account to succeed in attacking our democracy and its institutions and processes of accountability.
The fourfold crisis of capitalism, neoliberalism, and its austerity agenda
The SACP Central Committee Plenary took place against the background of the devastating impact of the endemic crisis of capitalism, a merciless exploitative system that puts profits before human life.
Endemic capitalist system crisis: The economic facet of the capitalist system crisis is reflected, in South Africa, by the long prevailing high levels of unemployment, poverty, inequality, low levels of domestic production output, and frequent recessions. This is also a reality in many countries in Southern Africa, the rest of Africa, and the Global South. In developing countries, the crisis is a result of a combination of domestic problems and the legacy of domination and national exploitation by colonial and imperialist powers of Europe and the United States.
Unemployment: In South Africa, our latest Labour Force Survey by Statistics South Africa shows that our unemployment rate is 32.5% by the narrow or official definition that excludes demoralised work-seekers. Total unemployment by the expanded definition that takes them into account is 42.6%. In actual figures, these percentages mean that we have a population of 7.2 million work-seekers who are unemployed according to the narrow definition of unemployment, while our total unemployed population including demoralised work-seekers is 11.2 million.
Inequality: Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa had a poverty headcount of 56.8%, with that of females, at 58.6%, worse than that of males, at 54.9%. The desperate situation of household food insecurity in our country—as one basic measure of the crisis of social reproduction—is reflected by the fact that the cost of a basic food basket for a family of seven is more than the national minimum wage.
Inequality: The Gini coefficient used as a measure of the distribution of wealth or income and thus the associated inequality was high in South Africa long before COVID-19, with that of wealth higher than that of income. For example, in 2015, the Gini coefficient of wealth in South Africa was 0.94, while that of income was 0.67. Gini coefficient values range from 0 to 1, with 0 representing perfect equality and 1 representing perfect inequality. This means that South Africa’s levels of inequality are extremely high, and even Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and its broad-based iteration do not respond to this appalling reality. Had it not been of social grants, and other ameliorative measures by the government, the situation could be worse than it is now.
The crisis of social reproduction: Due to unemployment, poverty and inequality, many South Africans especially the affected poor and working class were long before COVID-19 experiencing a crisis of social reproduction. The key indicator of the social reproduction crisis is the widespread problem of households unable to support themselves. Connected to this are the high levels of interpersonal violence, including the scourge of gender-based violence, and unabated criminality.
The pandemic crisis: COVID-19, the dominant domestic and global pandemic facet of the endemic crisis of capitalism, has worsened the pre-existing high levels of unemployment, poverty, inequality, and the associated crisis of social reproduction. In South Africa, due to the legacy of colonialism, capitalism, and apartheid, the social impact of COVID-19 has been most devastating on working-class women, more so black women, and black men, as well as the black youth in overcrowded townships, squatter camps and underdeveloped rural areas.
A stern warning from the COVID-19 pandemic to society is that we could find ourselves faced with more global pandemic breakouts in future, as capitalist accumulation of wealth expands into new fields, causing enormous devastation to our environment. This is how the COVID-19 pandemic was probably unleashed, as all indications point out.
The crisis of climate change: The climate change crisis is another facet of the dominant fourfold capitalist system crisis. Its results include global warming and the devastating frequent natural disasters, with environmental degradation caused by capitalist production and patterns of consumption.
Neoliberalism and its austerity agenda: Related to the fourfold crisis of capitalism (the economic crisis, the crisis of social reproduction, the pandemic crisis, and the climate change crisis), the policy regime of neoliberalism, inclusive of its austerity agenda (“fiscal consolidation”) involving either budget cuts affecting social spending and other imperatives, or the suppression of social development spending, has held back efforts at achieving an economic and social development turnaround. In the first place, the neoliberal policy regime was a key factor behind the outbreak of the global economic crisis back in 2008. Neoliberal globalisation codified the deregulation that resulted in the anarchy in financial markets and elsewhere, consequently caused havoc and the plummeting of production on a global scale.
Neoliberalism was a key policy driver behind financialisation and associated with it the rise and dominance of the productive sector and governments policy direction by the interests of finance capital.
Neoliberal restructuring of the workforce, including retrenchments, labour brokering, casualisation, and other forms of the more exploitative irregular (“flexible”) employment regime, has contributed immensely to the crisis of mass unemployment, poverty, and inequality, and its sustenance. Neoliberalism is also the structural policy driver behind the persisting economic crisis, globally and domestically.
The push by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund for governments to cut public sector wages and pursue other anti-worker policies is part of the neoliberal austerity agenda. Uncritical national treasuries drive such measures insensitively without thinking about their wider implications. This trajectory engenders a growing negative sentiment from the ranks of the affected workers.
The pursuit of profit maximisation at all costs, human and ecological, is a key feature of the neoliberal paradigm, deepening exploitation of labour by capital, and the fourfold crisis of capitalism.
Therefore, the crucial importance of the SACP centenary theme—PUT PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS—cannot be overemphasised.
Put people before profits—the way forward from the fourfold capitalist crisis, neoliberalism, and its austerity agenda
Economic and social reconstruction and development: The levels of growth, needless to mention their lack of inclusion, estimated in the budget delivered by the National Treasury to Parliament last month for the current medium-term expenditure framework period up to its outer financial year, 2023/2024, are clearly inadequate to resolving the high levels of unemployment, poverty, inequality, and the crisis of social reproduction. The term of office of the current administration ends in 2024. Thus, the medium-term expenditure framework has serious ad wider implications.
While recognising the consultation that took place at the National Economic Development and Labour Council, the SACP is calling for a fresh round of consultation towards an adequate economic and broader social reconstruction and development plan. The Central Committee underlined the importance of Alliance consultation and collective leadership regarding the substance and direction of the revised economic and social reconstruction and development plan that the SACP is calling for.
The meeting reiterated the importance of measures that advance structural transformation of our economy to resolve the crises of unemployment, poverty, inequality, and social reproduction. These should include prescribed investment; transformation of the financial sector; tight regulation of cross-border capital flows; decisive measures to clamp down on illicit capital flows and deal more decisively with corruption; an annual wealth tax; and high impact industrialisation and manufacturing expansion and diversification, including through a resolute pursuit of minerals beneficiation, as well as sustainable energy production and supply, sensitive to the need to protect the environment. This will require a comprehensive and high impact industrial policy and strengthening and adequate funding of the Industrial Policy Action Plan, upon which high impact sectoral master plans should be based.
Support for workers in the public service and the private sector: The Augmented Central Committee reiterated solidarity with public service workers affected by the decision of the National Treasury to not honour the government’s wage increase bargaining agreement. While the courts have an important role to play and the SACP resolutely supports the workers’ struggle to defend their rights on all fronts, the dispute is of such a nature that in the ultimate analysis it requires engagements to resolve.
The SACP has learnt from COSATU that certain sections of capital in the private sector are now taking their cue from the stance by the National Treasury by undermining bargaining agreements. The SACP pledges its solidarity with the affected workers.
We will hold a joint SACP Political Bureau and COSATU Political Commission session by 6 April 2021. We intend to emerge from the meeting with a joint programme of action to tackle the refusal by the National Treasury and sections of the private sector to comply with bargaining agreements. We will develop a joint programme of action with COSATU in this regard.
Popular Left front and the struggle against austerity: The SACP will use the joint programme of action with COSATU as a platform to advance its resolution to forge a popular Left front. The Augmented Central Committee reiterated the call by the SACP to the entire trade union movement to unite in action behind the common interests of the workers. The SACP will strengthen its Central Committee Trade Union Commission and efforts to engage with trade unions and their federations with the goal of building wider trade union and broader working-class unity.
Free education for the poor and the working class who cannot afford: The Augmented Central Committee reaffirmed the SACP’s stance on free and compulsory basic education, as well as technical, vocation and higher education and training for the poor and the working class. The meeting welcomed the measures taken by the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology to reprioritise funds towards the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to ensure that no deserving student is excluded.
In that regard the SACP clearly supports the genuine demands of the students, and further calls upon the government to prioritise resources to expand the number of public colleges and universities and ensure that they are adequately funded and resourced. We welcome the Cabinet’s commitment to undertake a comprehensive review of student funding, including the issue of student debt.
Over the years, including during the term of office of previous administrations, the fiscal framework followed by the government amounted to defunding public colleges and universities by cutting allocations to these institutions. The budget presented to Parliament last month is no different. The medium-term expenditure framework allocation to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme suppresses its growth, by limiting it to a mere and inadequate 1.7% for the period ending with the financial year 2023/2024. A key challenge we face in public schools, colleges and universities alike is the problem of austerity. Important baseline programmes in the basic education sector were also cut in terms of funding support.
It is therefore disingenuous for the elements within our movement who either presided over cuts to college and university allocations to come out claiming the opposite. Also, within the Alliance, the ANC is the only formation that welcomed the austere budget presented to Parliament last month. It is hypocritical for any leader of the ANC to parade themselves in the public as a stalwart of free education at a stroke.
The SACP warns elements within our broad movement not to use genuine education struggles to pursue factional conduct and agendas in our movement and society. The ANC has a responsibility to publicly support its own policies and policy positions, instead of allowing some from within its leadership ranks to engage in opportunistic and populist postures that run against the ANC’s policies.
COVID-19 vaccine imperialism: The Augmented Central Committee welcomed the emerging effort by the government to build domestic vaccine productive capacity through a state-owned pharmaceutical company. Western powers, which have bought more vaccine doses than they need for their populations, also use imperialist measures to deepen the dependency of Global South countries on pharmaceuticals produced by their multinational corporations. Those companies have made COVID-19 vaccines accessible to their governments at lower prices, while using their monopoly to rip off Global South countries, undermine democratic national sovereignty in the “developing countries” through unbearable conditionality, and not taking responsibility for anything that could go wrong.
The SACP will in the coming period strengthen its national and international mobilisation against COVID-19 vaccine imperialism and nationalism. The Augmented Central Committee called upon our government to not limit its COVID-19 vaccine access strategy to the West, but also seek co-operation with Cuba, China, and Russia, among others, as they have developed vaccine development and production capabilities.
The way the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) conducts itself leaves much to be desired. A probe into what clearly appears to be a Western bias or capture reflected in SAHPRA’s pharmaceutical trajectory calls for a probe. For example, Cuba has developed and produces Heberprot-P, which plays a key role in treating diabetic complications. The medicine is revered in many parts of the world, and by the World Health Organisation, for preventing situations where amputation in affected patients becomes necessary.
However, the approval of the medicine has been frustrated for years in our country, within SAHPRA. This is the same regarding the Cuban developed Heberon® Alfa R, which is used therapeutically in COVID-19 cases and has contributed by no small measure to countries such as China dealing with COVID-19 much better than countries like South Africa and the United States.
Reconfiguration of the Alliance and local government elections: The Augmented Central Committee reaffirmed the Party’s 2019 Special National Congress declaration that the SACP will not support candidates imposed on communities, corrupt candidates, and candidates who emerge from factional conduct and undermining of due processes inside the movement. The SACP will also not support any election strategy that is not inclusive of the Alliance. The meeting tasked the SACP Politburo to manage the implementation of this declaration in the forthcoming local government elections.
In terms of the declaration, where the undesired conduct that the SACP took a stance to not support prevails, the SACP structures in the affected area will compile a report for the leadership of the Party to consider, for engagements with the Alliance formations, and if needs be for approving an outright electoral contest within the framework of the SACP 14th National Congress (2017) resolution on the SACP and State power. In the same breadth, the Politburo will evaluate the Metsimaholo situation comprehensively and determine the way forward regarding that municipality, based on the direction from the Augmented Central Committee.
In the here and now, the Augmented Central Committee tasked the leadership of the Party to engage with COSATU, at the next bilateral, and with the ANC, to review the election guidelines to ensure that the guidelines reflect a commitment to the reconfiguration of the Alliance. Accordingly, the guidelines must ensure adequate representation of the Alliance partners, which cannot be reduced to the same status as the leagues of the ANC.
The R9 billion “lost” at the State Security Agency: The testimony presented at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture suggests that a part of the money from what could be described as “The Great SSA Heist” went to a particular side of the factional battles fought towards, and at the 54th National Conference of the ANC held in December 2017. In the same vein, it was clearly suggested by the testimony that the so-called money “lost” in expenditure and outright theft at the SSA, was being looted to drive a factional politics within our movement, in addition to absolute private enrichment.
Considering “The Great SSA Heist”, and further the corruption widely associated with water boards, the Augmented Central Committee calls for full disclosure by all candidates who contested positions of leadership at the ANC National Conference on the sources of the funds that went into supporting their campaigns. The Augmented Central Committee made this decision also considering the “CR17” campaign financial statements that were circulated widely in the media following an investigation by the Public Protector that has since been declared unlawful and invalid by the courts.
International solidarity: The Augmented Central Committee pledged solidarity with the people of Cuba against the heightened imperialist and illegal blockade by the United States. During his election campaign, Joe Biden committed to reverse that draconian offensive against Cuba and the Cuban people by the Donald Trump administration. However, the Biden administration is yet to do so. The Augmented Central Committee has called for the Biden administration to lift the blockade against Cuba unconditionally, with immediate effect. We also urge all progressive forces to intensify their solidarity with the Cuba and the Cuban revolution as an example of an alternative society that millions of people hope for throughout the world.
The SACP also expresses its solidarity with the people of Syria against the recent bombardment by the Biden regime, just a few weeks after his election.
The Augmented Central Committee expressed solidarity with the people of Myanmar against military dictatorship and onslaught.
The SACP is deeply concerned about the deteriorating life of the imprisoned freedom fighter Amos Mbedzi in prison in Swaziland. Mbedzi recently lost her mother and suffered a stroke. He is a fighter for a democratic Swaziland. We strongly condemn the persecution and incarceration he is subjected to by the Swazi government, and the SACP calls for his unconditional, immediate release.
Compliance with Covid-19 preventative measures: Finally, the two previous major surges of COVID-19 were linked to important holiday periods in our country. The forthcoming Easter Weekend calls for vigilance. The SACP calls upon every person in South Africa to observe the COVID-19 preventative measures.
Issued by the SACP, 24 March 2021