South African Communist Party
May Day statement
1 May 2018
Forward to decent work, working class unity and democratic worker control!
Forward to universal emancipation!
When we marked May Day last year, 2017, we spoke of “state capture”. We said the parasitic looting of public resources was the most immediate, and the gravest threat to our democracy.
What was behind “state capture”? We said – Connect the dots. And so we connected the dots from the many scandals on the front pages of the newspapers. In Eskom some of the dots pointed to former comrades who had lost their moral compass, like Brian Molefe. They pointed to scoundrels and premier league leaders who had auctioned their provinces to the highest bidders.
The dots as they ran through crooked Cash Paymaster tenders to pay out social grants. There were dots that implicated Roy Moodley, whose Siyangena company was the major beneficiary in a R4bn tender to supply security surveillance at Metrorail stations that was never installed. It was the same Roy Moodley who had a serving national president on his company’s payroll.
A budget in the Free State to support emerging black farmers was diverted into a dairy farm in Vrede owned by a foreigner with no background in farming. Some of that money also went to a private wedding party flown out from India via a strategic National Keypoint – Waterkloof Airforce base - making fools of our national sovereignty.
The dots point to money flowing through a spider’s web of private bank accounts in South Africa and miraculously finding their way to Dubai, thanks, in part, to the Indian public Bank of Baroda.
The Number Two in the South African Revenue Services and his girlfriend were caught depositing huge piles of unaccounted for cash into their private bank accounts. And yet they went unpunished for months.
As we followed the dots, increasingly they pointed in one direction, our country was being stolen from under our noses by the Guptas, in association with the family, the friends, the girl-friends, the Dudu Myenis, and associates of former president, Jacob Zuma.
Cabinet appointments were being made in Saxonwold and not in the Union Buildings. A former minister, like Mosebenzi Zwane was reporting directly to the Guptas. We were on the verge of signing a nuclear power deal with the Russians that would have bankrupted our country, and sent us packing into the arms of the global loan-sharks, the mashonisas – the World Bank and IMF.
This was the situation last year as we marked May Day 2017.
An invisible coup was creeping up and beginning to strangle our democracy. It was not a typical coup. It did not have soldiers and tanks in the streets. It did not have rebel security forces seizing the radio station and national airport.
Our creeping coup was different. Our national broadcaster was captured by a dangerous, megalomanic clown Hlaudi Motsoeneng, without arms but with a sweet deal with Multichoice and ANN7 and with the clear support and protection of high-up politicians.
Our major national airport, OR Tambo, was not surrounded by rebel tanks. Instead, a privileged entry and exit point was given to the Oppenheimers for the use of the super-rich. This was the 7-Star VIP Fireblade facility. But then the Guptas wanted to take it over after their attempt to smuggle what looked like diamonds out of the facility was declined by the private operators. The ensuing inter-capitalist dispute exposed the whole scandalous deal and revealed more dots.
This was the situation when we marked May Day last year, 2017. And we called it for what it was: State Capture.
And this was the situation when COSATU called a national strike in October last year with the full support of the SACP.
We used last year’s May Day, and we used the October marches and actions to expose the rot.
Today, May Day 2018, we can note that important advances against state capture have been made.
As we note these advances, let us acknowledge the important role WE have played from WITHIN the Alliance, we, the left axis within the ANC-led alliance – the SACP and COSATU.
We spoke up for many honest ANC supporters who had been silenced and excluded from their own branches. We spoke up for many ANC stalwarts whose attempts to convene a consultative conference were dismissed. We spoke up for millions upon millions of South Africans.
Since the beginning of this year there have been important advances in the struggle against state capture – but there is still much unfinished business.
There is a new board at SABC and Hlaudi Motsoeneng has gone. Brian Molefe has gone. The Guptas and Duduzane Zuma are on the run. The Hawks are finally moving on the Vrede farm scandal. Tom Moyane is suspended. Arthur Fraser has been shifted from director general of Intelligence. There is an Interim PRASA board. The role of the private sector in acting as a megaphone for the Guptas – as in the case of Bell Pottinger - has been exposed. That London based firm, a multi-national PR company, that had been practising subversion around the world has now collapsed – thanks to our own principled struggle here in SA.
The role of another multinational, the auditing firm, KPMG has also been exposed, and it has now been banned by the Auditor General from doing public sector auditing. The same has happened to Nkonki Inc – caught up in the Gupta and Venda Building Society web – now undergoing liquidation.
Investigative journalists are, quite rightly praised for many of the revelations – but behind these exposures are also principled public sector workers, honest politicians, comrades who have the courage to speak up.
And finally…finally…as a result of all of this, the head of the NPA has found a spine and announced his intention to pursue charges of corruption and racketeering against Jacob Zuma.
The dots have become dots on dominoes, and everywhere the dominoes are falling. The fall of one domino is causing a ripple effect on others.
But we must remain extremely vigilant. The struggle against state capture is far from over. And the organised working class has a critical role to play.
The ANC, and the government are now under a new President. Cde Cyril Ramaphosa is clearly attempting to lead the struggle against state capture. But it is also clear that the organisation that he leads, the ANC, is still hamstrung by factions. There are clear indications of an attempt at a fight-back led from high up within the ANC. KZN has become a hot-bed of this attempted fight-back. In the face of overwhelming popular anger and frustration, the ANC often appears to be paralysed, or at least very slow to move. The events over the past weeks in the North West province underline this very clearly.
Let us take this opportunity to salute the role being played by our SACP and NEHAWU comrades in the North West. SACP’s July 2017 National Congress called for Left Progressive Fronts at the local, regional, provincial and national levels. By a Left Progressive Front, we do not necessarily mean a formal structure. What we are seeing in the North West is a practical example of just such a provincial Left Progressive Front in action. Together, in the North West, the SACP and COSATU have been playing a leading role, a principled role in speaking up for communities, for many concerned ANC members and supporters, even for local business-people and now parts of the Youth League itself. Of course, we condemn the senseless violence and acts of looting by unorganized elements, AND we condemn the fight-back violence by goon squads associated with the Premier. We join the overwhelming majority of citizens in the North West in saying: “Supra must go!” The ANC NEC must act decisively and in line with its own conference decisions. It must strengthen its Integrity Committee and deal with corruption without fear or favour.
The struggle against State Capture is not just a general moral struggle against crime and corruption. As important as that is. It is directly a working class struggle, because State Capture is a direct threat to jobs and to the well-being of workers and the poor in our country. It is State Capture that has drained our budgetary resources. It is state looters and Tom Moyane’s perversion of SARS that has led to revenue under-performance. And so we have had an increase in VAT. It is a wrong intervention. We agree with COSATU that VAT increases are a blow against workers and poor. The SACP calls for a wealth tax on the super-rich, and for a land tax on unoccupied land, and on property speculators. We say no to unprogressive taxes, we say no to the VAT increases.
Now is the time for maximum working class unity. Now is the time for maximum unity in action of the entire trade union movement.
As the SACP we were disappointed that others chose to use the NEDLAC National Minimum Wage agreement as their headline mobilisation. We call on all Trade Unions to pursue the demands of their members in a manner that unites, rather than divides the Trade Union movement.
Let us not resort to an opportunism that says: “We reject any improvement for now. Let millions of workers continue to be paid less that R2 500 a month, less than R20 an hour. We reject these improvements until our maximum ambitions have been realised.”
Of course, R3 500 a month is NOT a living wage. But it is a floor below which no worker must fall. Of course, we must struggle relentlessly to achieve both full employment and a living wage.
But between 4.6 and 6 million workers as we speak are earning LESS than R20 an hour. Over 51% of South Africans live below R1 036 a month.
It is a tactical error to condemn workers to wage levels that are below R2 500 by rejecting the NEDLAC agreement of a national minimum wage of R3 500 as a starting point. In fact, this rejectionism will simply work to the advantage of the capitalist bosses who will continue to pocket the surplus they enjoy from the super-exploitation of the unorganised, the marginalised, and the precariously employed.
Once the National Minimum Wage becomes law, it is an important responsibility of all unions to USE this floor as a weapon to organise the most vulnerable – including in sectors where there are sectoral settlements of R17 or less than R20 per hour. This must be a platform to push forward, uninterruptedly, to National Minimum Wage improvements and a living wage.
For the majority of the organised working class, already earning much more than R2 500 or R3 500 a month, support for the National Minimum Wage is an act of class solidarity with millions of domestic workers, farm-workers, retail workers, and other vulnerable workers.
The SACP supports progressive trade unionism. The SACP has set itself the objective to achieve broad working class unity on a principled programmatic basis. We repeat the call on all trade unions – pursue the demands of your members in a manner that unifies rather than divides the trade union movement.
In this regard, we salute the role that SATAWU has been playing, working together with a range of other unions, in the ongoing nationwide, bus strike. The bus companies must end their super-exploitation of workers in the sector. Not only are the wages often poor, but many of the cost-cutting practices are totally unacceptable, like not paying the second driver when he or she is not driving on a long-distance trip. In other cases, the hours drivers spend collecting buses from the depot and returning them again at the end of a shift are not counted. This is scandalous and must end.
Our struggle is not only a struggle for decent work and a living wage. It is also a struggle for a comprehensive social security system, including a much broader social wage that addresses the social needs of the working class and poor – like affordable and well-located housing, like affordable and safe public transport. The National Health Insurance must be introduced sooner not later. It must not be watered down. Nor must it be set up for failure. It must not be captured by private profit interests. At the same time the dire state of much of our public health care system requires urgent attention to cope with decay and dilapidation of facilities.
The SACP supports the demands of the public sector unions in the current round of negotiations – while acknowledging that government has difficult budget challenges. But public sector workers must not be made to pay for the sins of the parasitic looters. At the same time, it is critically important that public sector workers are NOT themselves involved in looting, as some have been. Public sector workers must be both the ears and eyes against corruption as in the North West currently, and they must prioritise batho pele, service to the public.
The ANC is beginning to move into election mode. Some sections of the opposition are off-balance and weakened, while others are trying to re-invent themselves after the removal of Zuma. It is important to continue organising young people, developing their leadership capacity and deepening political education around the historical mission of our revolutionary movement – the creation of non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa based on democratic majority rule. We must not live these important tasks to our youth formations alone. If we do not succeed, the youth could find itself attracted to populist, demagogic and anti-worker slogans. In this regard the SACP congratulates COSATU for a successful launch of its youth desk last month.
If the ANC is to regain lost electoral ground it is absolutely imperative that it works closely with its alliance partners. This has not always been the case. In many areas the relationship remains very poor. We need to reconfigure the Alliance, how it operates, not just nationally but at all levels. COSATU, SANCO and the SACP must not be used as useful campaigning machinery, as voting fodder and then get dispensed with after elections. We are not saying this to advance our own personal careers – but as advice to the ANC, to the honest ANC – you need your alliance partners more than ever. This will be on the basis of a genuinely radical, shared programme to transform our society and our economy.
Worker unity is absolutely critical if we are to avoid a new black elite replacing the established capitalist class in oppressing the majority in the name of “Radical Economic Transformation”.
Worker unity is absolutely critical if we are to ensure that the struggle against “state capture” is not dominated by those who want to return back to before the ANC’s Polokwane Conference, to retreat back to 1996. Let us ensure that the “New Dawn” does not turn out to be a return to neo-liberalism.
Let us build working class unity! Let us reconfigure the ANC-headed alliance on the basis of an organised, active, campaigning working class! Let us continue to roll-back state capture! Let us send the crooks to jail! Let us ensure that our democratic movement retains political power to serve our people exceptionally and wholeheartedly! Let us not allow public power to be stolen and used to further private interests!
Issued by the SACP, 1 May 2018