Alliance Summit Declaration
1 July 2015
The national leadership structures of the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and the South African National Civic Organisation met over five days from 27 June till 01 July 2015.
Forged in the trenches of struggle, the alliance remains a critical force to ensure that the goals of the Freedom Charter and NDR are achieved. It has been 21 years since the democratic breakthrough. Significant progress has been made while there are also many persisting challenges. With sustained, overwhelming democratic electoral support, the leader of the alliance, the ANC, has carried the responsibility for governance. This has introduced new internal, organisational challenges, not just for the ANC, but also for the alliance.
This Summit was therefore convened primarily to ask the hard questions of ourselves. Are we optimally organised to address the expectations that millions of South Africans have vested in us? What impacts have the new realities, including the new realities of governance, had on us as an alliance and as individual components?
Organisational Renewal, Internal Democracy and Discipline
Discussions in the Summit focussed considerably on a range of internal weaknesses, difficulties and challenges found across all our formations. These include:
A growing social distance between leadership and our mass constituency, including
- a disconnect between the focus of branch activities and the social and economic realities of communities
- crass displays of wealth and arrogance.
These problems reinforce and are connected to the deliberate manipulation and subversion of internal democratic processes through the manipulation of membership through gatekeeping and the use of money to advance individual ambitions and factions based on patronage and nepotism. This behaviour is also the entry-point for corporate capture and private business interests outside of our formations to undermine organisational processes.
The Summit resolved that these deviations must be dealt with firmly and without fear or favour. Those guilty of funding factions and those guilty of accepting money for these purposes must be exposed.
- Internal disciplinary processes must be pursued speedily and consistently
- Where money intended for our organisations is diverted into private pockets, civil and criminal cases must be preferred
- Those found guilty in court must be placed on the Registry of National Treasury which makes them ineligible for being awarded public tenders.
Let us remind ourselves that leadership of society must be earned through exemplary conduct and adhering to revolutionary morality.
The Summit agreed that each alliance partner, having identified the challenges, will work out its specific responsibilities and that these will be reported to the Political Council. The Political Council will monitor implementation and execution of responsibilities.
The alliance directs that the initiatives from this Summit be taken forward in a series of national alliance-led provincial and regional meetings with organisational structures.
Let us defend the unity of COSATU and the unity of the working class
The alliance partners are united in defending the unity of COSATU along the principle of ‘one union; one industry; one federation; one country.’ An injury to one alliance partner is an injury to us all. The independence of COSATU as a strong militant and fighting force for the rights of workers is affirmed. The Summit also affirms its support of the right of COSATU to make its own decisions concerning internal discipline.
The challenges within COSATU are not unconnected to massive restructuring of the workplace and the segmentation of the working class underway since the mid-1990s. Capital flight, casualisation, labour brokering and mass retrenchments have resulted in de-industrialisation and a decline in union density in the private sector.
The alliance supports COSATU’s commitment to a back to basics strategy focussing on service to members, internal union democracy and worker control. At the same time, the increasing segmentation of the working class requires more creative ways in order to reach the most vulnerable sectors. In this context, all alliance partners have a role to play.
The Movement will continue to engage with all workers who are in unions that are not affiliated to COSATU and will work for the unity of the working class.
People-centred, people-driven transformation
During the difficult days of Apartheid, millions of ordinary South Africans understood that they needed to be their own collective emancipators. The liberation struggle was grounded in community activism, solidarity struggles and neighbourhood organisation. These traditions have not disappeared in many poor communities through voluntary work, home-based care and participation in community safety forums.
This resourcefulness of South Africans is a remarkable asset, but these strengths and traditions have become somewhat weakened by a message that “the state will deliver.” While public resources must play the major part, a different relationship between state and communities must be fostered. Our grassroots organisational structures must play a leading role in mobilising communities to appreciate that freedom comes with rights and responsibilities.
The alliance is proud of what we have achieved together over the last 21 years and we reiterate the call made in the ANC’s 2015 January 8 Statement that we must unite behind a common goal of putting in place a democratic and prosperous South Africa. Society at large; all employers, trade unions, civic organisations and ordinary South Africans must work together to put in place a better life for all.
Emancipation of Women
Women are, more often than not, at the forefront of community development and regeneration initiatives and programmes. Important progress has been made in advancing gender rights and in women’s active participation in both the public and private sectors. However, indicators on poverty, employment and inequality show that women still bear the brunt of exclusion.
We note that the majority of the members of many of our organisations are women. However, this reality is often not reflected in the leadership profile at all levels of our formations. This is indicative of the pervasive levels of patriarchy and our immediate task must be to intensify the fight against patriarchy and affirm the positive presence of women on the ground and throughout the Movement.
Mobilising the Youth
The youth of today is more informed and more connected than ever before. In many ways, they have been the direct beneficiaries of a liberated society. However, legitimate hopes and aspirations and youthful energy are often blunted by the realities of exceedingly high youth unemployment and lack of opportunities.
In this context, the Summit recommended that we take forward the debate on the introduction of a National Youth Service. An expanded, multi-sectoral youth service can be an important means for providing training and life skills and for countering social alienation manifesting as gangsterism and drug and alcohol abuse.
We call on the Progressive Youth Alliance to develop joint programmes of mobilisation of youth on campuses, in schools, villages, towns and cities.
The dangers of racism, tribalism and regionalism
After 21 years of non-racial democracy, there are still manifestations of racial arrogance that plays itself out in social media, and in the commentary sections of online newspapers. In many workplaces, including the security, farming and domestic work sectors, baasskap still prevails. This in turn, sometimes provokes anti-white racism. We condemn all forms of racism unreservedly .
There are also more subtle forms of racism that are playing out in complaints that ‘standards are dropping’ and ‘things were better off before’ and other similar utterances from those who benefited from an unjust system. Afro-pessimism and pseudo-liberal arrogance seek to display the ANC-led government that continues to garner massive public support, as genetically incompetent to lead the country.
The founding principle of the ANC is fighting the demon of tribalism, but we are now seeing a re-emergence of tribalism linked with further exclusionary elements of regionalism. The alliance rejects such backward tendencies as they are against our core values and principles and are often used as a means for excluding others from our structures. At the same time, the alliance is proud of the diverse cultures of our people. Let us celebrate our heritage; united in our diversity.
Building a non-racial society and Movement requires ongoing engagement with our communities, doing the right things in our structures (such as eliminating gatekeeping and other exclusionary practices) and recruiting progressives from all sectors of society.
Ideological Development and the Battle of Ideas
The battle of ideas is being fought on various platforms such as social media, traditional media and academic environments on an ongoing basis. The dominant ideas spread in these platforms, such as consumerism and individualism, are counter-productive to the progressive project of building social cohesion and solidarity.
The alliance remains firm in our conviction that there is no substitute for direct engagement and making sure that our activists and cadres are part of social movements in their communities.
The Summit expressed deep concern at the erosion of the SABC’s ability to fulfil its public mandate. This is caused by inadequate public funding, private corporate capture and the virtual monopoly of pay-TV by a single company. Linked to this has been the sale of the SABC Archive to Multichoice and thus the privatisation of what should be our shared national heritage. A further consequence is that public access to live parliamentary debates and continuous news coverage is limited to those who can afford pay-TV.
The alliance recommits to putting in place a capable, patriotic and efficient public service in all spheres of government. In this regard, we support, amongst other things, the proposal in the National Development Plan (NDP) that the Public Service Commission (PSC) should play its rightful role in determining the levels of staffing and the requisite competencies and qualifications of staff.
Our legislatures must be forums for serious multi-party debate and forums in which we give legislative effect to the will of the people. Public representatives are further entrusted with doing oversight and it is incumbent upon us to empower ANC public representatives to carry out this important mandate.
Hooliganism and anarchy detract from public representatives’ ability to perform the critical tasks entrusted to our legislatures. The alliance commends our public representatives who have endeavoured to perform their duties in the face of provocative, anarchic behaviour and call on them to continue to behave in a firm, disciplined and dignified manner.
This incident was one of the greatest tragedies of our recent history.
The Summit noted the ongoing work of various arms of government to provide support to the families of those injured and killed and to their wider communities. Already 560 new houses out of the planned 7000 in depressed mining areas on the platinum belt have been built. At Marikana a new primary and secondary school have already been built. In the sending areas of rural Eastern Cape, families have been assisted by the department of social development.This work must continue and be expanded.
We welcome the release of the Farlam Commission Report and support the decision by government to work with unions and the mining industry to give effect to the Commission’s recommendations.
The mining houses, not least Lonmin, must adhere to the obligations and commitments undertaken in the Mining Charter in regard to social-labour plans, amongst other things.
The absence of centralised bargaining in the platinum sector was a contributing factor and we repeat our call for the introduction of centralised bargaining to avoid destabilising the sector. There needs to be better training of company human relations departments and trade union negotiators to stabilise relations and overcome raw hostility.
A comprehensive review of the migrant labour system must be undertaken to ensure a more humane dispensation that allows for more stable family life.
Public order police must be better prepared, trained and equipped to deal with disturbances to the public order, and generally the capacity of the police service to be able assure the safety and security of communities must be enhanced.
The alliance further re-iterates support of the right to strike and to peaceful protest, but we condemn the bearing of weapons in strikes and public protest action and the use of violence against fellow workers and community members.
This matter was discussed and it was agreed that Parliament should conclude work on the issue speedily. The alliance calls on government and the courts to conclude all civil, criminal and disciplinary matters directed at those responsible for the gross inflation of both the scope and costs of the project.
Contrary to disinformation propagated in much of the commercial media, the Report of the Public Protector found explicitly that no undue influence was brought to bear by the President nor was there any indication of corruption on his part. Suggestions to the contrary are part of an attempt to delegitimize the head of state and our democratically elected government.
Transformative and independent Judiciary
The Alliance Summit reaffirms the importance of an independent judiciary as one of the critical pillars our democracy.
We remind ourselves of the ANC's 2015 January 8 Statement which enjoins us to work tirelessly to ensure that the judiciary represents all the people in South Africa. It is important that we attract the best progressive legal minds to the judiciary.
The summit expressed concern at the emerging trend, in some quarters, of judicial overreach, thus bringing into question the very fundamental principle of separation of powers on which our democracy rests.
There are already commonly expressed concerns that the judgments of certain regions and judges are consistently against the state, which creates an impression of negative bias.
The summit also expressed concern at recent statements of the Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court. Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington, he said that in South Africa the judiciary should take a more direct political stance than even in the US. By implication, the Deputy Chief Justice gave notice that our courts should be involved in matters that are properly in the jurisdiction of the executive and parliament.
In a more direct inference during a speech in 2014, in the name of defending the Constitution, he raised concern at the “uncanny concentration of power” in the President in regard to appointments. Amongst other things he refers to the President’s responsibility (after consultation with the Judicial Services Commission and the leader of parties in the National Assembly) to appoint the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice. But this is, precisely, an explicit requirement of Section 174 of the Constitution. Is he proposing changing the Constitution in the name of defending the Constitution?
Safe, reliable, affordable and accessible public transport
The Summit took note of a new set of challenges emerging from Putco’s decision to cancel some of their operating routes in Gauteng. The working class continue to suffer from a range of challenges associated with apartheid spatial development, which are exacerbated by the lack of safe, reliable, affordable and accessible public transport. We urge the provincial government to review the resourcing and strategic prioritisation of initiatives aimed at increased mobility and accessibility for commuters.
In particular, concern was expressed that car-commuting freeways and elite modes of public transport have been disproportionately favoured at the expense of the 70% of households who rely entirely on public transport. There is still not unanimity in the Alliance about the desirability of e-tolls, but the Summit commends the review of e-tolls by government and acknowledges that this shows that our Movement listens to and cares about the people.
State Owned Enterprises
State owned enterprises and development finance institutions are essential components of the developmental state we are seeking to build. They have a key role in achieving our economic and social strategic priorities. They also have a major potential capacity to provide skills development for young South Africans. It is important that the Boards and management of SOEs and DFIs are competent, familiar with the sector and understand the strategic importance of the entity concerned.
The Summit, in particular, emphasised the importance of a major turnaround in the South African Post Office. With an extensive footprint in communities around South Africa, it has significant development potential. The Postbank should have a key role in the roll-out of social grants rather than relying on private for-profit companies.
Global balance of forces
The Summit was honoured to be visited by the Cuban 5 and deeply moved by their expression of gratitude for the role that our alliance played in the global mobilisation for their release from US jails. Their presence, at our Summit, underlines the continued imperative of international solidarity for peace, development and the rights of nations to pursue their own democratic, sovereign mandate.
Since 1994, there have been important shifts in the global balance of forces. Global inequalities have deepened, transnational corporate land-grabs in Africa and in the South in general have dislodged 100s of millions of rural households into teeming urban slums and provoked a flow of desperate refugees. Last year, an unprecedented 1billion migrants crossed international borders. Imperialist inspired wars have created large swathes of instability and the rise of terrorism.
At the same time, there has been a popular revolt throughout Latin America and in Southern Europe against punishing austerity programmes. The emergence of new economic powers, notably China, and the formation of blocs like BRICS and South-South cooperation, have created space for advancing alternative developmental agendas relatively free from neo-liberal unilateralism. For SA, advancing a regional and African agenda in this context is crucial.
This is the global context in which the unity of our alliance and the consolidation of a broad patriotic agenda is essential.
As delegates to this Summit, we pledge to take forward the spirit of unity, self-critical evaluation and a determination to implement the key decisions we have agreed upon.
We believe that this Summit marks a turning point in the unity and cohesion of the Movement, working together in common action to realise the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution.
Statement issued by the SACP, July 1 2015