South African Communist Party 13th Congress Central Committee 20th Plenary Session statement 4 June 2017, Johannesburg
Defend, Advance, Deepen the National Democratic Revolution:
The Vanguard Role of the SACP!!
The Central Committee of the South African Communist Party met in Johannesburg over the weekend of June 2-4. This is the final CC meeting before the SACP’s 14th National Congress to be held in Pretoria on July 11-15. Accordingly the political context of our Congress, as well as the organisational preparations for it, was the main agenda items.
The SACP’s audited membership now stands at an all-time high of 276,168. At our July 2012, 13th Congress our audited membership was 154,220. Over the past five years there has been a steady increase in membership numbers, with a large increase of over 26,400 members since December 2016, which we attribute to Party activism increasingly winning public endorsement throughout the country. We are already in the process of registering Congress delegates nominated formally from branches, and we expect to have 1,864 voting delegates at Congress.
Our Congress occurs at a critical moment for our country. The SACP is well aware that we carry many responsibilities with high expectations being vested in our Party from a wide array of forces, many of which might not have been historically sympathetic to us.
It is no secret that the ANC is now in deep crisis. At the highest national leadership level it is paralysed by deep divisions that, for the moment, render it incapable of undertaking the decisive corrective measures that the great majority of ordinary ANC members and supporters now clearly recognise as imperative, beginning with the stepping down of President Zuma.
The steep decline in popular support that saw the loss of major metros in local government elections in August last year, has continued unabated with, for instance, a further dramatic decline in the rural Nqutu municipal and other by-elections a week and a half ago.
At this rate of decline the ANC may not retain its electoral majority in 2019 and further organisational fragmentation cannot be ruled out. Every week, in fact almost every day now with a barrage of leaked e-mails and more and more whistle blowers coming forward to the South African Council of Churches’ Unburdening Panel, the sheer scale of corporate capture and of parasitic plundering of public resources by the Gupta network becomes more and more evident. Sadly, and even more concerning, the central role of President Zuma and his son Duduzane in this auctioning off our national sovereignty is also increasingly apparent.
In the political report to the Central Committee four interrelated features of the Gupta parasitic-patronage network were identified:
- Accelerated rent-seeking based on state capture – with key state-owned corporations (among them Eskom, Transnet, SAA and Denel), and their billions of rands of procurement, being the principal target.
- The emergence of a parallel shadow state, what some have described as a “silent coup” – with key policy and deployment decisions being taken outside of the constitutional structures of government (and of the ANC governing party). In this context the CC called for the immediate reversal of the factionalist axing as an MEC of our provincial secretary, Cde Madoda Sambatha.
- Growing authoritarianism and inclinations to presidential diktat, with nostalgia for military-style, top-down command and control openly expressed. Dark threats are reportedly uttered in ANC NEC meetings, and there is a growing pattern of intimidating actions directed at those who dare raise concerns. The illegal role of a paramilitary force linked to elements within the MK Veterans Association is one of the many instances, in particular threats against our second deputy general secretary, Cde Solly Mapaila. These patterns are repeated, often more violently at the grass-roots levels, with a surge of political assassinations, notably in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
- A diversionary populist ideological platform – in the face of growing public exposure of their misdeeds, there have been a number of ideological interventions from the parasitic-patronage faction. Private corporate capture of public institutions has included the SABC under the despotic rule of Hlaudi. The Gupta-funded ideological apparatus – the New Age and ANN7, along with social media fake bloggers, and Twitter bots linked to pop-up “think tanks”, like the “Black First, Land First”, and the “Decolonisation Foundation” seek to divert the narrative.
These diversionary narratives often invoke narrow, right-wing Africanist themes, and feed into the erosion of the important non-racial values of our constitution and our movement. At the local level this decline in moral and ideological values is seeing increasing tribal and ethnic-based mobilisation.
All of this is happening at a time when life for the majority of South Africans, the working class, the rural and urban poor and middle strata, is becoming more desperate, more insecure. Levels of racialised and gendered poverty, inequality, and unemployment (now at 27,7% in the narrow definition) persist and are even worsening. This is happening while a network of parasitic plunderers fly around the world in private jets with known foreign money launderers, or acquire R18 million rand apartments in gold-plated bolt-holes in Dubai.
We frequently invoke the triple crisis of poverty, inequality and unemployment. But it is necessary to add a fourth and related dimension – the crisis of endemic, and particularly gender-based, violence. The majority of South Africans no longer enjoy the most basic of citizenship rights – a sense of personal security in their homes and neighbourhoods. A pandemic of violence against women and children is particularly heinous.
Meanwhile the trust in the SA Police Service in many localities is non-existent while the police themselves are often demoralised, under-resourced and overwhelmed by the scale of challenges confronting them. At the same time, the upper echelons of the criminal justice system, notably the NPA and the Hawks, along with the SA Revenue Services, have been among the first targets of parasitic elite factional capture and perversion– for the obvious reasons.
Let’s not lament, let’s not despair - Mobilise, organise and defend our constitution, our democracy, our national democratic revolution
While it is necessary to clearly identify, to name and shame the perverse and deeply worrying developments within our country, our government, our ANC-headed movement – it is even more important not to give way to despair or apathy. Life goes on in our country, everywhere South Africans show remarkable resilience.
The SACP is convinced that the great majority of South Africans are committed to defending our Constitution and our democracy. Our own SACP-convened national Imbizo two weekends ago, one among countless broad patriotic initiatives, underlines that the core values of democratic constitutionality are shared across the widest spectrum of South Africans.
The declaration from the Imbizo agreed upon a minimum platform of six basic demands:
- An independent judicial commission of inquiry into state capture to be established immediately. In the light of the barrage of further revelations concerning the Gupta network, the commission needs clearly to extend its scope beyond the major but still limited issues investigated in the Public Protector’s “State of Capture” report. But we must vigorously guard against recent attempts to dilute it into investigating such a wide field that its work will never be completed.
- The immediate dissolution of the Eskom Board as part of a broader set of urgent interventions to address SOE corporate governance.
- Ending abuse and factionalism within the criminal justice system – notably in the Hawks, the NPA and in the Intelligence services.
- Strengthening parliament’s oversight role.
- Implementing the ANC-alliance resolution on life-style audits for senior politicians and civil servants.
- Halting the roll-out of a nuclear programme that our country neither needs, nor can afford.
These basic demands, we believe, form the basis for the broadest patriotic unity in action.
At the same time, however, we need to ensure that these critical interventions do not simply serve to return us to a supposed business as usual. The defence of constitutionality and democracy is essential but not enough. These historic gains, which are now under dire threat, must become the platform for radical transformation led by a popular front.
We need to ensure that popular mobilisation, a radical popular front, in the present serves to address the deep-seated structural problems in our political-economy that are at the heart of reproducing crisis levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment along with the resulting morbid social phenomena like gender-based violence.
What makes the Gupta-centred parasitic network the most dangerous and the most immediate, counter-revolutionary threat to our democracy is, precisely, the fact that it is eroding the two principal weapons in the hands of the popular forces to drive radical transformation – a democratic state and a popular movement that was, once, led by the ANC.
This is why the SACP is actively engaging with COSATU and the broader trade union movement, with ANC stalwarts, veterans and supporters, with civic and faith-based formations, with progressive social movements. One way or another in the coming months the ANC-headed alliance is being and will be re-configured. Whether there is the internal capacity within the ANC itself to drive this process is uncertain, but that it must happen is obvious.
A reconfigured alliance will have to be built on rootedness within working class and poor communities. In the face of chronic violence, for instance, in localities we need to help communities to act together on a non-partisan basis to reclaim their streets and neighbourhoods through street committees and other organs of democratic popular power. Popular power buttressed by democratic state power is the way forward.
It is in this broad context that as the SACP we will be proceeding to our 14th National Congress in July under the banner:
Defend, Advance, Deepen the National Democratic Revolution:
The Vanguard Role of the SACP!!
Statement issued by the SACP, 4 June 2017