South African Communist Party
Reconfigure the Alliance; selflessly serve the people wholeheartedly
Statement in memory of Comrade Joe Slovo during the occasion of the commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the death of the selfless leader of the South African struggle
Avalon Cemetery, Soweto, 6 January 2019
Cde Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary
Today marks the 24th anniversary since Comrade Joe Slovo’s last breath on 6 January 1995. At that time, Slovo was the National Chairperson of our Party, the SACP, and a member of the National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee of the ANC. The ANC is both our long standing historical ally as the SACP, but we are also members of this glorious movement in our individual capacities as communists. This is the capacity in which Slovo, also the first Minister of Housing following our democratic breakthrough against the apartheid regime, served not only the SACP but also the ANC and primarily our people in struggle with a great dedication.
Slovo set an example of loyalty, hard work and zeal in the performance of his duties both in the SACP and the ANC as well as in uMkhonto weSizwe (MK). As a strategist and tactician of our struggle for liberation and social emancipation, Slovo was also involved in the drafting of some of the key documents of both of the SACP and the ANC. This includes the Freedom Charter.
Slovo served as the Chief of Staff of the MK, our joint ANC-SACP military wing established in pursuit of the liberation of the oppressed people of our land. He was succeeded in both his responsibilities as the General Secretary of the SACP and MK Chief of Staff by Comrade Chris Hani. Slovo served together with Comrade Nelson Mandela right from the founding of the MK and in its high command. At that time the ANC was not still organising only Africans, but the MK organised people of all races
The ANC opened its membership except for the leadership ranks to people of all races at its Consultative Conference held in 1969 in Morogoro, Tanzania, where it adopted its first Strategy and Tactics. Slovo was involved in drafting the document. The ANC opened its leadership ranks to people of all races at its Consultative Conference held in 1985 in Kabwe, Zambia, where Slovo was first elected to serve on its National Executive Committee. The good leadership example set by Slovo shows that one does not necessarily need to be elected to a leadership position in order to be involved in the struggle and give leadership to the revolution.
Emulate the good leadership example of Joe Slovo; selflessly and wholeheartedly serve the people!
We are commemorating this 24th anniversary of the passing away of Cde Slovo, at a time when our revolution is struggling to get out of one of its most dangerous periods perhaps since the 1994 democratic breakthrough. It is a period in which parasitic networks, both in the state and in our movement, almost handed all of our key state institutions to their corrupt sponsors. It was a period that consolidated and also begun to exhibit some of the worst regressions of many promising revolutions, when they get corrupted or captured by parasites:
Factionalism – Whilst all broad movements, or any political formations for that matter, will always have differences, but when these cease to be ideological or about strategy and tactics and degenerate into factions fighting over positions and resources, then this is an expression of one of the most dangerous regressive tendencies in many revolutions. Some of this factionalism has led to assassinations of political adversaries as the battle over control of key organisational structures and resources intensifies.
Resurgence of racism and racial chauvinism – Although racism still runs deep in South African society, with its primary form being anti-black racism, this phenomenon cannot be separated from the legacy of colonialism, including colonialism of a special type and apartheid, with its capitalist mode of production. Failure to meaningfully transform the colonial growth path in our economy reproduces deeply embedded racism and newer forms of racial chauvinism as expressed by organisations such as the Black First Land First, which represents some of the most backward forms of racial chauvinism, and to a certain extent the EFF as well. Organisations such as the AfriForum are using our legal system to try and defend white racial privileges and to frustrate transformation; for example the (hopefully temporary) blocking of the promotion of primarily black members of the police VIP protection services from long overdue promotions, just because this largely affects those previously drawn from what was known as non-statutory forces.
Tribalism and regionalism – Factionalist battles are also often advanced through tribal mobilisation or appeals to tribal, ethnic, or regional and racial identity. This often comes in the form of appealing to tribal/ethnic/racial affiliations and mobilisation through a tribal/ethnic/racial card as we have seen in some of the community protests in recent times. Some of these protests are as a result of deteriorating socio-economic conditions in our townships and villages and frustration with lack of services from many of our municipalities. However, appeals to tribalism/ethnicity/racialism are not only by ordinary masses of our people, and it is often tribal/ethnic and racial entrepreneurs from the ranks of leadership that are the first to appeal to some of the basest of instincts from within the ranks of workers and poor, including appeals to very problematic traditional practices. Indeed tribalism/ethnicity and racialism are a political refuge of political scoundrels!
Populism – In conditions of worsening socio-economic conditions and poverty there often emerges populist tendencies – promise of easy solutions to complex and often difficult problems as part of cheap mobilisation of support and/or political sympathy. The current debate on land has many of such populist postures, like promising land grabs to our land hungry people, without any clear strategies, including the necessity to come out with a clear legal framework for expropriation of land without compensation. Populism often also accompanies neo-fascist tendencies that we see in the body politic of our country of late, including expression of wishes that some leaders would have had powers of dictatorship often in order to advance a corrupt agenda with impunity.
Cult of the personality – Inside our own movement we are beginning to see the emergence of a cult of personality, something that we had long overcome. Today we are beginning to hear that certain leaders or individuals are so important such that the ANC cannot wage an effective election campaign without them. It is as if the ANC needs these individuals more than they need the ANC! We must expose and defeat this emergence of the cult of the personality. Even Cde Nelson Mandela was very clear on this score that he was what he was and became who he was because of the ANC and not the other way round! Joe Slovo also knew that he was what he was because of the SACP and ANC! We dare not allow this regressive tendency of a cult of personality to capture our movement. No individual is bigger and more important than our movement!
The fight back against attempts to root out corruption and state capture – There is now emerging a bold, if not reckless, fight against attempts at renewal and forging unity in our movement, including attempts to defeat state capture. This is a fight fought by the same elements that have been at the centre of the parasitic networks and state capture.
Part of this fight back is to weaken the ANC both now in the run up to the elections as well as thereafter so that it is unable to stamp its authority to regain the superior morality of our movement and to fight corruption. Some of these planned smaller splinter parties and initiatives to contest the 2019 elections from some of those associated with the ANC, is nothing else but an attempt to produce a weakened ANC and Alliance after the elections.
They hope for an ANC and Alliance that would be held at ransom and unable to fight and defeat the parasitic networks. Our task as the working class is to fight and defeat this fight back, and that is why it is of utmost importance to unite all the progressive forces inside and outside our movement to defeat the parasitic networks.
That is why it is important to welcome and support the initiatives led by President Ramaphosa to clean State Owned Enterprises and other state organs like SARS as part of defending the gains of the first phase of our democratic revolution – thus laying a basis to drive its second more radical phase!
Part of fighting the fight back is to expose the creation and role of rogue intelligence activities associated with the state capture agenda. We welcome the decision of the Standing Committee of Intelligence that all rogue intelligence activities be fully investigated. Those who were involved, including at the highest possible levels, should be exposed!
This year we also expect a report of the high-level review panel appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in June 2018 to assess the mandate, capacity and organisational integrity of the State Security Agency (SSA). The work of the high-level review panel must lay the basis for digging all the rot in the SSA and for a firm action to be taken against abuse of this state organ. All rogue intelligence activities must be exposed and decisively uprooted from the SSA.
Slovo hated and fought against all these regressive tendencies, organisationally and ideologically. It is not unavoidable that democratic and other progressive revolutions are destined to suffer this fate, as some claim today.
What is required is to identify, properly analyse and confront all those tendencies that may lead to the decay of the revolution, timeously and frontally. Much as some of these regressive tendencies – especially factionalism – were to be found across our Alliance, they have mostly been concentrated in the ANC. Many of these tendencies have been a general feature of our society as well. These regressions were at their sharpest in the run up to the last ANC Conference in December 2017 – the NASREC Conference – almost placing the organisation on the brink of a potentially damaging split.
The above developments and regressions particularly posed a serious threat to the gains that had been made over the last 20-25 years – what we have referred to as the first phase of the national democratic revolution. The advances in this first phase include the building of new and democratic state and other institutions, the abolition of virtually all racially based institutions and state structures, progressive and worker friendly labour legislation, significantly improved access to health care and education, and the building of a social security system that has played a crucial role in cushioning the poor of our country from the worst impact of capitalist exploitation and its crises.
It is a phase of our revolution that has laid a firm, albeit not uncontested, foundation to pursue a more radical programme of socio-economic transformation – what the ANC Mangaung Conference referred to as the second radical phase of the National Democratic Revolution.
For the SACP the National Democratic Revolution is our most direct route to socialism. The attainment of some of the key objectives of the national democratic revolution will take us towards our ultimate goal of socialism. That is why Slovo always reminded us that the SACP’s participation in the national democratic revolution was not a postponement of the struggle for socialism, but an essential condition for creating the conditions for an advance to socialism. Therefore any immediate threats to the National Democratic Revolution – corruption and state capture – also constitute a serious obstacle to the struggle for socialism.
Reconfiguration of the Alliance and a resounding ANC electoral victory
We must all be clear that unless the movement purposely acts to unite itself, we would not be able to drive a second, more radical phase of our democratic revolution. Of even fundamental importance is the need to unite and strengthen the alliance. However, the Alliance cannot be strengthened unless it is reconfigured to deal with all the regressive tendencies in our movement, effectively fight and defeat the fight back campaign and selflessly serve our people wholeheartedly. We should intensify pushing the reconfiguration of the Alliance to place the interests of the working class and poor – the majority of our people – at the centre of our shared programme, the second radical phase of the National Democratic Revolution, and therefore at the centre of state power and its exercise as a pillar of the revolution following our 1994 democratic breakthrough.
The importance of democratic consensus seeking consultation within the Alliance before all major policy, deployment and accountability decisions are made cannot be overemphasised. The second radical phase of the National Democratic Revolution will only succeed under collective leadership as opposed to unilateral and authoritarian leadership. Therefore a reconfigured Alliance must not just be reduced to elections, but to the very necessity to strengthen the Alliance as a vehicle to take forward our revolution. The reconfiguration of the Alliance is therefore a key task of the working class during this year.
Nevertheless, we should push the campaign for a resounding ANC electoral victory within the context of a reconfigured Alliance. We are pleased to say that this matter is now under serious discussion within the Alliance. But the SACP and the working class must know that much as it is important to engage our allies in discussions over reconfiguration, but such reconfiguration must not just be a boardroom exercise nor will it be an event through a signed agreement. We need to wage campaigns on the ground to deepen the National Democratic Revolution, thus make the imperative of a reconfiguration the alliance become a necessity from the ground.
Above all, rigorously building popular power and working class hegemony in all key sites of struggle and significant centres of power, intensifying mass mobilisation and political education are all the way extremely crucial.
Towards a programme of action for the working class in 2019
Cde Joe Slovo was indeed a man of wise and insightful words! But, above all, he was not only a man of words, but a man of action, and decisive action for that matter. Like a true communist he believed in the effective combination of theory and practice. We must reject the spurious agenda of all those – some of whom left the SACP opportunistically in 1990 – who want to reduce the SACP merely to a political school. Yes we are a political school and more. One of Cde Slovo’s decisive actions was that he led what was known as the Special Operations Unit in MK that embarked on some of the most spectacular military attacks on apartheid structures and striking fear into the heart of the apartheid regime, whilst mobilising millions of our people to confront that regime.
It is therefore important that we be like Joe Slovo by using 2019 to intensify working class and mass campaigning on a number of fronts:
Overwhelming electoral victory in the 2019 elections – A key strategic and programmatic task of our Alliance this year is that of achieving a decisive electoral victory by the ANC and its allies within the context of a reconfiguring alliance! Whilst electoral and governmental power does not constitute the totality of state power, it is important in advancing the National Democratic Revolution. A decisive victory must also send a message that indeed our movement is renewing itself and prepared to confront all degenerative tendencies both inside its ranks and in the broader South African society. It will also be an important platform to pursue the struggle against poverty, class inequalities, unemployment, state capture and gender-based violence! Let the SACP deepen the electoral fray towards a decisive electoral victory!
Take forward and deepen our Red October Campaign – Our 2018-2019 Red October Campaign is about tackling the many challenges at local government level and in our localities. Our very campaigning for elections must be premised on tackling local government level challenges, working together with our people. Let us go and strengthen the SACP branches as well as those of the ANC and our progressive civic organisation in our communities. Let us confront the challenges facing the provision of quality services to our people at local level and intensify the fight against corruption.
National Health Insurance
The National Health Insurance Bill should be strengthened following the process of public comments to decisively eliminate inequalities in access to quality healthcare and ensure universal quality healthcare through the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI). The revised NHI Bill should thereafter be approved by the Cabinet for the passage of Parliament as a matter of urgency.
Working together with its allies, progressive worker, community and other social organisations representing the genuine aspirations of the broad masses, the SACP will strengthen its work to defend, advance and deepen the NHI. This is also our key electoral and government policy priority for 2019. The SACP emphatically rejects the latest posture of those now opposing the NHI under the guise that our health institutions and structures are weak. This posture and stance is no different from the opposition waged by big private health monopolies to the NHI. The NHI precisely aims to help deal with the number of challenges and weaknesses in our health system. The SACP also calls upon the Minister of Health, Cde Aaron Motsoaledi, to remove those senior officials opposed to the implementation of the NHI!
Provision of housing for the poor and intensify the struggle against evictions – Like Joe Slovo, let us fight for the banks and the financial sector as a whole to provide affordable housing finance especially for workers and the poor. We are also demanding the urgent convening of the long delayed financial sector summit before the elections. Let us also demand doing away with compound interest on housing bonds especially for the workers, the lower middle classes and the poor. Let us mobilise to ensure that the court victory by the Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation supported by the SACP against the conspiracy by the banks to repossess, evict and sell cheaply the houses of our people is not reversed by the banks.
Implement the minimum wage – The SACP, Cosatu and indeed our whole Alliance and other progressive trade unions should dedicate 2019 to ensure that indeed the minimum wage is implemented. We call upon the Department of Labour to strengthen its labour inspectorate to monitor the process. But most importantly let us mobilise to defend the gains of the minimum wage, and wage this struggle together with the struggle against the labour brokers. Capitalist bosses are very meticulous at undermining working class gains and progressive worker legislation, like they did against the Labour Relations Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act through, inter alia, labour brokering and casualisation.
Advance a comprehensive social security – Over and above the national minimum wage, and its improvement going forward, the struggle for a living wage remains as relevant as the pursuit of a comprehensive social security system. The working class needs to unite, including by forging a Popular Left Front, to advance these and other immediate objectives such as secure decent work and long-term working class aims.
Land reform and the land economy
Similarly, the equally important imperative of speeding up the pace of land reform through expropriation without compensation for a public purpose or in the public interest should be anchored in giving practical expression to another constitutional imperative. That is, “to bring about equitable access to all South Africa’s natural resources” as opposed to reforms that shift empowerment or move land into the hands of a few private individuals on a capitalist basis in the name of Black Economic Empowerment.
The legislative measures to achieve land, water and related reform should not be limited to redressing the results of past racial discrimination, but neither should redressing the results of past racial discrimination be interpreted in capitalist terms. The process of land reform should rollback the market-driven class inequalities if it is to become successful.
In memory of Joe Slovo, let us forge a widest possible patriotic front in defence of human rights. Let us work together, and with the Police, to root out criminality and end abuse in our society. Let us work together to build safer communities. Let us intensify social mobilisation to ensure that our local government works effectively and serves the people selflessly. These are part of the key national priorities for the SACP in 2019.
Let us work together to build a better South Africa.
Let us strengthen our internationalism
In memory of Joe Slovo the internationalist, the SACP expresses its solidarity with the people of Eswatini. We are calling for the release of political prisoners, including Comrade Amos Mbedzi, and for the unbanning of political parties and a transition to democracy in Eswatini.
We pledge our unwavering solidarity with the People of Western Sahara, and call on Morocco to unconditionally end its occupation of Western Sahara with immediate effect.
The SACP expresses its solidarity with the people of Palestine. We call on Israel to return the entire occupied Palestinian land to the people of Palestine.
Tuesday, 1 January 2019 marked the 60th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution against the United States supported dictatorship that ruled the country. The SACP salutes the Cuban people for the victory, their steadfastness and resilience all the way. The SACP is calling for end to the illegal and criminal blockade of Cuba by the Unites States.
The SACP pledges solidarity with the people of Venezuela against the United States imperialist aggression.
Issued by the SACP, 6 January 2019