Joe Slovo's teachings still resonate - COSATU

Federation says late SACP GS cautioned working class organisations and mass organisations against getting locked up with themselves and abandoning class alliances

COSATU statement on the 21st anniversary of the death of Cde Joe Slovo

The Congress of South African Trade Unions joins millions of progressives and South Africans in general to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the death of one of our nation’s foremost revolutionary thinkers and theoreticians Cde Joe Slovo.

This former Umkhonto WeSizwe leader and former General Secretary of the South African Communist Party was a modest and disciplined revolutionary, who dedicated his entire life to fighting not only for national liberation but also for radical social transformation.

He was an intellectual giant, who advocated for “intellectual openness” and encouraged the members of the Party to continue exchanging ideas not only within the Party but also with all non-Party serious revolutionary activists.

Cde Slovo’s commemoration jogs our memory to the vast and unmatched wealth of revolutionary history and proud legacy of the vanguard of the working class the South African Communist party.

The SACP possesses plentiful experience and an indisputable wherewithal in using the theoretical tools of Marxism –Leninism, to analyse and critique the political environment and the socio-economic situation and ultimately provide cogent and practical answers and solutions that can be applied in the theatre of struggle.

The workers still have the utmost confidence in the political clarity, ability and commitment of the SACP to unite the working class and also to conscientiously work to build a firm foundation for a future socialist and ultimately communist society.

As we remember Cde Joe Slovo and summon from the grave his revolutionary wisdom and insightful teachings, we are reminded that he taught us that the revolution cannot be advanced in just one single corner but it should be fought in all terrains of struggle.

He also cautioned working class organisations and mass organisations against getting locked up with themselves and abandoning class alliances. In the modern era, where populism reign supreme and “revolutionaries” do not have the patience to engage in an honest and sober discourse in seeking answers to the pressing strategic and tactical questions of the day and do not want to take responsibility for the NDR; we are reminded of his words calling for considered patience.

In his well regarded and finely written and acknowledged pamphlet The South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution" Cde Slovo wrote:"Class struggle does not fade into the background when workers forge alliances with other class forces on commonly agreed minimum programmes. The history of all struggles consists mainly of such interim phases. What is the essence of conflict during such phases if not class struggle? There is no such thing as `pure` class struggle and those who seek it can only do so from the isolating comfort of a library arm-chair"

He went on to point out that if the working class rejects class alliances and go it alone, they would surrender the revolution to other classes and strata’s, therefore holding back or delaying the achievement of socialism. He also insisted on the independence of the working class formations and pointed out that if they surrender their independence, they will lose their ability to influence the direction of the revolution.

We therefore owe it to his efforts, teachings and sacrifices and those of many other revolutionaries to ensure that our National Democratic Revolution {NDR} deepens uninterruptedly towards socialism. The ultimate priority for all progressives at this point in time is to come up with concrete and practical programmes to help bring about the necessary fundamental transformation in the second phase of our transition.

We will use this moment as workers to reflect and analyse our political environment in order to develop proper responses to all challenges facing the revolution in particular the progressive forces. Our ultimate goal and priority should be to liberate the working class especially blacks from economic bondage.

When the nation is reeling from the public emergence of the perpetual demon of racism, and the arrogance of those, who benefitted and therefore still feel nostalgic for the race rule and ethnic separatism, we remember what Cde Slovo said. He said that: “The revolutionary classes can best advance the struggle for the achievement of single nationhood if they recognise {and act on} the reality that we are not yet one nation. The strategy and tactics of the struggle to create one united South African nation can neither ignore the significance of the present white-black divide nor the different levels of oppression to which the dominated majority are subjected”

Two decades after his death, Cde Joe Slovo’s teachings still resonate and are more relevant than ever. The workers will continue to consult them and learn from his revolutionary discipline and dedication, as they push forward with the goal of eliminating their exploitation by capital and ultimately creating a socialist society.

Statement issued by Sizwe Pamla, COSATU national spokesperson, 7 January 2016