If our liberation struggle was so expensive, how has it become so cheap? Is the National Democratic Revolution in an interregnum? What is to be done?
16 December 2016
The annual Augmented Central Committee (ACC) of the SACP met on 14 and 15 December in Johannesburg. In addition to elected CC members and provincial SACP secretaries and chairpersons, the ACC includes delegates from the SACP’s districts and an expanded Young Communist League of SA representation. Held towards the end of each year, this strategic planning session provides the SACP with the opportunity to review the past year and to prepare for the coming year, which, in this case, will be an eventful year with the SACP’s five-yearly elective national congress from 10 to 15 July, as well as a critical ANC National Conference scheduled for the end of 2017.
Next year also marks the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution that occurred in Russia in 1917. The SACP intends to the use the occasion to reflect on lessons learned from the 20th century, and, in the midst of an all-round capitalist crisis in the present, the imperative and challenges of building socialism in the 21st century.
The ACC devoted most of its time to discussing an extensive political report tabled by the SACP Secretariat.
The report noted that the national democratic transformation process opened up in 1994 is now on dangerous terrain.
For many decades, a broad national democratic consensus has underpinned the multi-class and ideologically diverse character of the ANC, and of the Alliance it has headed. Quite naturally, this national democratic consensus has not been entirely free of tensions, different but legitimate tendencies, and contrasting ideological currents. This consensus has now eroded dramatically over the recent past with the emergence of a reckless, conservative populism within the movement.
At the root of this erosion, the ACC agreed, is factionalism linked to corruption and the looting of public resources, driven, in particular, but not only, by a network of the corporately captured, most notably by those in planetary orbit around the Gupta family.
Corporate capture of key parts of the state and of key personalities has resulted over the past two years in extremely worrying developments, including indications of a shadowy parallel state that operates outside of cabinet discipline and beyond answerability to Parliament or even the formal structures of the ANC, let alone the broad South African public.
Elements, some of whom were associated with the apartheid-era security apparatus, are now unleashed on longstanding comrades.
Over the last days, in Inchanga, political assassinations continue, directed against a community that has openly expressed its support for the SACP and concern at the deterioration of ANC leadership in its region.
The Augmented Central Committee, however, also noted that 2016 has seen a significant backlash against corporate capture and corruption from a very wide array of forces, including from many historically associated with the liberation struggle – the progressive faith-based sector, ANC stalwarts and authentic (not counterfeit camouflaged) MK veteran combatants, the trade union movement and others who had left for business or academia.
In particular, the meeting welcomed the fact that key issues that the SACP (almost alone, certainly from within the ANC Alliance) has been raising consistently, are now receiving much greater focus and exposure, including from within Parliament, led by the ANC’s parliamentary caucus. These issues include the parasitic destruction of the SABC and the connivance of MultiChoice in this decay; and the corporate capture of key State Owned Corporations.
Of course, as the pressure mounts on wrongdoers, their recklessness increases. We are also seeing a co-ordinated, populist ideological fight-back being mounted from these quarters. They label those, including the SACP, who expose their parasitism as “tools of white monopoly capital”, or of “foreign imperialism”.
When we attack Gupterisation their counter-argument is “what about the Ruperts and Oppenheimers?” – as if Gupterisation of SARS, Eskom, Denel, or Transnet strengthens the capacity of the state to deal with established monopoly capital. Or as if the SACP has ever been on friendly terms with the Ruperts or Oppenheimers.
They claim to be “anti-imperialist” – as if landing a foreign wedding party at a high security air-force base, or illegal money laundering and expatriation of surplus to Dubai and other tax havens strikes a blow for national sovereignty. They say they are the victims of an imperialist “regime change agenda” directed from London, but their propaganda offensive, involving fly-by-night NGOs and pseudo-analysts, is run by the notorious, right-wing, UK-based, Bell Pottinger image consultancy.
It is important to build the broadest national democratic consensus against these counterfeit anti-imperialism and morbid tendencies. The SACP has engaged with some of the progressive formations in regard to this. However, it is equally important that we do not just confine our critique of parasitism to a moral critique, or to imagining that South Africa’s solutions lie in a retreat back to before 2009, or 2007.
Since the first Zuma administration, 2009-2014, an SACP-influenced left in government had ensured a wide range of transformative programmes had been implemented, in particular the shifting of government economic policies away from a neoliberal posture on a wide range of areas – state owned entities trade policy, labour policy, competition policy, industrialisation, infrastructure development, the spatial economy to overcome our apartheid geography, the massive expansion of post-school education and training (bringing its own new challenges), and work on advancing a solidarity economy and the right to work through public employment programs.
All of these and other progressive initiatives were advanced in the face of the global capitalist crisis and the collapse of the commodity super-cycle. They were also partially checked and compromised by counter-tendencies from within government. Despite all this, two million new jobs were created since the adoption of the left-leaning New Growth Path in 2010. These SACP-influenced government initiatives along with others such as those in the health, basic education, and land and agrarian sectors, point the way forward if, as a country, we are to exit from our triple crisis of racialised poverty, inequality and unemployment.
It was in this context that the Augmented Central Committee rejected the line advanced by hostile opponents of the Party that senior SACP personalities have been sitting comfortably but ineffectually in senior government positions. The meeting further noted that even in sectors in which leading SACP members in the executive and parliament had been blocked, dismissed or forced to retire, their principled activism in portfolios like communications and energy had served to expose wrong-doing and prevent the worst parasitism from having a free run. They laid the basis for the current parliamentary and other processes looking at the facts behind the stalling of digital migration or the attempt to foist a reckless nuclear build program on our country.
Need for unity in the ANC and inclusive management of ANC leadership succession
The Augmented Central Committee was also addressed by Comrade Gwede Mantashe in his capacity as Secretary General of the ANC.
The Augmented Central Committee engaged with the SG’s presentation, and arising out of the Secretariat Political Report expressed concern about deepening divisions and factionalism in the ANC, affecting the alliance and the capacity of the ANC to lead society.
The SACP believes that if the ANC does not unite and become rooted in the masses again it will not be able to lead the National Democratic Revolution. The SACP will continue for now to contribute to the ANC playing this role but will also simultaneously independently contribute to building a working class-led popular movement to advance the NDR.
The Augmented Central Committee expressed its concern that for a 105-year old liberation movement it is unacceptable that the ANC does not have a clear policy on leadership succession, and urges that it develops such a policy and implements it as soon as possible.
Rather than simply focusing on names of those who should be elected as ANC President, other office bearers and National Executive Committee members, there has to be a consideration of the criteria for effective leadership. A key consideration would be the capacity of a leader and leadership collective to avoid being factionalist and unite the ANC, the Alliance and the historical support base of our liberation struggle.
SACP and State Power
The Augmented Central Committee took further the discussion on the SACP and State Power, including the possibility of contesting elections on our own, as part of the ongoing discussions leading to the SACP’s July 2017 14th Congress at which decisions will be taken.
The meeting reaffirmed that the SACP seeks to establish democratic working class power over the state and will engage in new ways of doing this that are being raised in the Discussion Documents being finalised for our 14th National Congress in July 2017.
It is at this Congress, after discussion at branch level, that decisions will be taken on the SACP contesting elections as part of our Strategy on State Power, which is inextricably linked to and must be buttressed by democratic popular power. Among the issues that would need to be clarified at the 14th National Congress are:
-How will SACP taking part in elections on its own advance the national democratic and socialist struggles?
- If the SACP takes part in elections on our own, would the SACP still be part of the Alliance?
- If so, how would the Alliance be re-configured?
- If the SACP is not part of the ANC-led Alliance, who would it ally with?
- How would contesting elections relate to the broader popular front the SACP seeks to create?
The SACP will engage with its Alliance Partners, as well as a range of other progressive formations, on these and other relevant issues in the lead up to its 14th Congress and beyond it.
SACP will work towards trade union and worker unity
The SACP is committed to assisting our ally, COSATU, in every way possible to re-build and become a formidable force again in these unique and especially challenging times. The SACP believes that COSATU has made significant progress in the recent period under very difficult circumstances, but there is still much to do.
The SACP and COSATU share a commitment to building a radical and militant working class movement. For the SACP, this will require, in the first instance, the deepening and protection of our relationship with COSATU. The SACP needs to pay close attention to helping to rebuild COSATU’s industrial unions and expanding into unorganised areas.
The SACP has renewed its commitment to extend its work and engagements beyond COSATU and seek to reach out to all organised workers. This will also help to contribute towards the “one country, one federation” aspiration. The Party believes that there is much more that unites than divides workers across the different unions and federations. However building a single union federation is not a board-room exercise but requires the mobilisation of workers around common concrete demands.
For example, there are common aspirations of workers across federations and unions like fighting against labour brokers and casualisation, the transformation of the financial sector to invest in job creating activities, the industrialisation of our country and growing the productive sectors of our economy, including building worker co-operatives. It is specific demands and campaigns around these issues through which the SACP will seek to encourage broader worker campaigning and co-operation as part of building a militant working class movement.
Another important matter around which to mobilise organised workers is that of fighting the parasitic bourgeoisie and rolling back its capture of the state and state owned entities. This is a campaign that has not been taken up by any of the unions both inside and outside COSATU, and yet it poses one of the most serious threats to transformation and defending workers’ gains. Those interested in the corporate capture of the state are targeting the capture of the very unions organising the sectors of the state they are interested in.
The SACP will revitalise, resource and strengthen the SACP’s Trade Union Commission This Commission will develop a nationally co-ordinated programme to strengthen our bilateral relations with COSATU and all its affiliates, as well as to reach out to all organised workers and their unions, especially those likely to accept a minimum programme of action to defend workers.
We welcome the decision of the social partners to agree on the principle of a national minimum wage. We feel that negotiations should continue on the amount. The minimum wage also needs to be linked to an effective comprehensive social security system.
Increasing Securitisation of the State
The SACP once again draws attention to the intense factionalisation, narrow politicization and increasing corruption of the state’s security agencies, the most recent example of which is the bogus charges against Comrade Robert McBride and his colleagues. In the lead up to the ANC’s 2017 National Conference this is likely to increase. It is clear that the state’s security agencies have themselves become a threat to national security.
We condemn the security agencies for taking sides in the internal divisions within the ANC, Alliance and government, and the increasing securitization of the state. We are determined to combat this.
We welcome the Parliamentary SABC Inquiry
We congratulate the ANC on initiating this Parliamentary Inquiry, which we believe will contribute to re-building the confidence of the people in the ANC and parliament.
As the SACP has long been saying, the SABC is utterly dysfunctional and corrupt, as is being glaringly revealed by the long-overdue Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee inquiry into the SABC. We want to see decisive action taken against those responsible for this, including criminal prosecution.
Multi-Choice and Naspers have played a major role in the crisis in the SABC and we believe that the parliamentary inquiry needs to call Mr Koos Bekker and Mr Imtiaz Patel to answer for their part in this. As we have repeatedly said, we believe that they have unduly influenced the Department of Communications’ approach to the Set Top Box policy in order to retain MultiChoice’s 98 percent monopoly of the Pay-TV sector. This is against ANC policies that would have transformed the sector and benefitted new emerging entrepreneurs. We also believe that the Parliamentary inquiry should consider recommending the scrapping of the illegitimate Multi-Choice-SABC Agreement.
Now for Parliamentary Inquiries into State-Owned Entities
In view of the dysfunctionality, mismanagement and widespread corruption allegations of key State Owned Corporations, we urge that Parliament carry out inquiries into ESKOM, Transnet, Denel, PetroSA, and the SAA.
Official Inquest into the assassination of the Comrade Chris Hani, our former General Secretary
The Augmented Central Committee endorsed a proposal to campaign for the re-opening of an official inquest into Comrade Chris Hani’s assassination. The SACP will consult with the Hani family and explore a legal route to follow in this regard. We will also campaign through political action, and our 2017 commemoration of Comrade Hani’s assassination will be dedicated to demanding the inquest.
The SACP will also continue to oppose parole for Janusz Waluś, one of Comrade Hani’s murderers. We believe that he and his convicted late co-conspirator Clive Derby-Lewis did not make a full disclosure of the circumstances surrounding the assassination. The SACP noted the recent contradictions between Waluś’ position and the so-called Derby-Lewis disclosure released posthumously. Derby-Lewis died an unrehabilitated convicted murderer who believed apartheid was the right policy for South Africa and that Comrade Hani had to be killed.
SACP to develop policy on Nuclear Energy as part of the Energy Mix
This area is crucial in the transformation of our economy. The SACP will further consider the energy mix for our country and the role and place of each of the components, including nuclear energy. The SACP will finalise policy on this matter of crucial importance at our 14th Congress.
The SACP is very concerned about the perceptions of corruption and secrecy surrounding the government’s proposed nuclear project, and calls on government to be as transparent as possible, and for Parliament to play its full role to ensure this.
Campaign on Water
South Africa is a water-scarce country, and this resources is vital for our livelihoods as well as a critical input into the economy. The sector is faced with huge challenges, including the threat of mining acid to our water resources.
Water has very big projects in the pipeline, primarily the building of dams and these are a target of tenderpreneurs. We need organisation and mobilisation to ensure that these funds are not wasted or siphoned off. The SACP also needs to contribute to campaigning around how to save water.
Fidel Castro: A Revolutionary Legend
The SACP once again acknowledges the huge contribution Comrade Fidel Castro made to the national liberation and socialist struggles, not just in Cuba, but globally. He had a huge impact on our own struggle and many other struggles on our continent. The SACP sent a delegation to his funeral and they were overcome by the outpouring of love for him by Cubans and the deep commitment of the Cuban people to their revolution. The SACP conveys its heartfelt condolences to the Cuban people, revolutionaries everywhere and to Comrade Catsro’s family. Hamba Kahle, Comrade Fidel!
SACP to convene Imbizo and conference of commissars to encourage national unity to address country’s challenges
The SACP is aware of the many economic, political, social and other challenges that confront our country and how concerned people are about this. This is reflected in the current terrain in which all manner of regressive social phenomena have sprouted – violence against women and children; xenophobia; the spread of “happy-clappy” evangelism – including all manner of quackery and fake “prophets-of-doom”; the resurgence of “identity” politics including, in rural areas, a resurgence of ethnicity, and even renewed life being breathed into narrow Africanist and Black Consciousness discourses and so on.
More than ever, the ANC-led Alliance is required to give leadership and unite the country to address these challenges. The SACP urges the ANC to play its full role in this regard.
For our part, the SACP will before our July 2017 Congress convene a National Imbizo to bring together a range of the mass democratic forces to discuss the challenges facing our country and consider ways to address them.
We firmly believe that a revitalized mass democratic movement led by the working class and its allies can triumph over these obstacles. It is the ANC-headed Alliance, provided we unite and become rooted in the masses that can lead a new process of accelerating the National Democratic Revolution. But at the same time, SACP needs to build a working class led popular movement in preparation for increasing leadership role in the National Democratic Revolution.
The 55TH Anniversary of uMkhonto we Sizwe
Today is the 55th Anniversary of uMkhonto we Sizwe the joint armed-wing of the SACP and the ANC, and we convey our revolutionary greetings and warmest good wishes to those who were a part of it. We also acknowledge the many, many gallant uMkhonto we Sizwe fighters who gave their lives for the cause of national liberation.
End of year good wishes
Finally, the SACP conveys good wishes to the workers and the people of our country over the festive season. We urge all South Africans to drive safely on the roads and to safe live.
Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, National Spokesperson, SACP, 16 December 2016