Address by the President of the African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, at the 90th Anniversary Celebration Gala Dinner of the South African Communist Party, Sibaya Casino, Durban, July 30 2011
General Secretary of the SACP, Comrade Blade Nzimande;
National Chairperson of the SACP, Comrade Gwede Mantashe;
President of COSATU, Comrade Sidumo Dlamini;
General Secretary of COSATU, Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi;
Members of the Central Executive Committee of the SACP;
ANC provincial chairperson, Dr Zweli Mkhize and ANC National Executive Committee members and other leadership present,
Comrades and friends;
I bring revolutionary greetings from the soon to be 100 years old African National Congress, to its fraternal ally, the 90 year old South African Communist Party.
It is an important day in the history of our country because very few organisations in history survive this long, having operated under extremely difficult repressive conditions.
On behalf of the leadership of the ANC and its membership, we congratulate the SACP on reaching this milestone.
This anniversary is also significant moment, not only for the Alliance but for the country as a whole, as an SACP anniversary celebration is part of the progressive history and heritage of our country.
It is a reminder of the successful and heroic struggles of our people for freedom, justice and human dignity.
Therefore, the anniversary has brought us together as the ANC, SACP and COSATU, to reflect on how far we have come in the struggle for the liberation of our people and country and that of liberating our people from poverty and inequality.
The SACP has played a key role in that struggle, in 90 years.
On the 30th July 1921, key socialists, among them Bill Andrews, David Ivon Jones, S.P. Bunting and Colin Wade, established the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA).
The relationship between the SACP and the ANC was shaped by the 1924 resolution of the party which said; "Party stresses the prime importance of mass organisation of labour... the problems of the working class can only be solved by a United Front of all workers irrespective of colour." Lerumo, Fifty Fighting Years: (p 52).
This resolution was to pave the way for the SACP and the ANC to work together for many years to come. The party and the ANC have since then shared a strategic vision and a common perspective that has linked them together, the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution.
It indicates the resilience of the membership of the party, that this movement has survived difficult conditions of persecution, harassment, banning, arrests, exile and deaths in detention of leaders during the period of colonial repression and apartheid.
This is testimony to the spirit of selflessness and no surrender as well as the dedication of the scores of cadres of the party to the cause of freedom from all forms of oppression.
This 90th anniversary also enables us to reflect on the role that the Communist Party played in strengthening the ANC, especially in the 1930's and the 1940's and also during other critical periods, such as the 1960s when the ANC was banned, and had to go underground.
The banning of the Party in 1950 provided valuable lessons to the ANC when it was also banned in 1960.
The SACP already had the experience of operating underground, which it shared with the ANC.
The adoption of the armed struggle during this period and the formation of uMkhonto we Sizwe was a joint collaborative effort between the ANC and the SACP as well as the leadership of the Congress Alliance.
Once MK was formed members and leaders of the SACP played an instrumental role in building it and showed much courage.
Today we also mark the historical fact that the SACP was the first truly non-racial Party or movement in South Africa.
So as the ANC we owe one of our most cherished and important principles and character of non-racialism to the Party.
By 1928 the Communist Party had more African members than White members.
What is also remarkable about the South African Communist Party is the fact that from the earliest of times, it produced outstanding and courageous leaders who were always in the frontline of struggle.
We are inspired by the selfless sacrifices, commitment and dedication of leaders such as Albert Nzula, J.B. Marks, Ray Alexander, Ruth First, Josie Mpama, Jack Simmons, Yusuf Dadoo, Bram Fischer, Govan Mbeki, Harry Gwala, Joe Slovo, Chris Hani and others. Both the SACP and the ANC lay an equal claim to the leaders of their calibre and many others.
This was always a unique trait in our Alliance, that comrades could take leadership positions in any component of the Alliance without any hassle. For example, while he was a leader of the Communist Party, Comrade Moses Kotane was also a dynamic trade unionist and a leader in the ANC.
He struck a balance in all his positions and ensured that there was both an understanding and an appreciation of what each individual organisation had to do. Comrade Oliver Tambo acknowledged the dual leadership and membership role when he said about Comrade Mabhida, at his funeral in 1986:
"It was part of Comrade Mabhida's greatness that, having quite early on understood the importance of the unity of these great movements, he succeeded in ably serving each one of them individually, and all of them together, as a collective front for national and social emancipation''.
Another remarkable characteristic of the South African Communist Party is that it has in its history produced leaders who have always had clarity of thought and a clear vision about the execution of the National Democratic Revolution.
We have a good example in Moses Kotane, a giant of our struggle and one of the most brilliant leaders to have ever emerged out of our National Democratic Struggle. Comrade Kotane's thinking was far ahead of his time.
He was one of the most scientific thinkers of his time who understood how to execute different struggles, how to combine all of them towards a particular common goal our National Democratic Revolution.
As another veteran of our struggle and the Chairman of the South African Communist Party, Comrade Yusuf Dadoo observed that:
"Comrade Kotane saw clearly that there could be no working class victory without black liberation and no black liberation without the destruction of capitalism in all its forms". Moses Kotane: A South African Revolutionary. (p. 1).
Other illustrious party leaders include Johannes Nkosi, a worker leader, a hero and a martyr of our struggle, killed by the South African Police during a protest march against the hated pass laws in Durban on 16 December 1930.
This anniversary therefore is a celebration of the calibre of leaders our struggle has produced.
Throughout their leadership they were principled leaders. You were always certain and confident about their views and their views gained them the respect.
That is why it is said that Chief Albert Luthuli would always ask: "but what is the view of Kotane on this matter" on all critical issues. This tells us that Comrade Kotane was dependable and could be trusted.
Like the ANC and COSATU, the SACP continues to grapple with the challenges facing our country currently. The Communist Party will assist us by analysing current conditions in the continent as well as in the entire world scientifically, to help us interpret domestic and world developments.
The party must be in a position to interpret conditions of our country and what is happening within the trade union movement and other terrains. The Party must therefore play an important role in ensuring the development of working class theory which must clarify scientifically, the complex class dynamics today. This must be done not selectively but to protect all working class interests, not those in employment only but also those out of employment, in other words, the poorest of the poor.
The party must also be heard on critical matters that affect our society. In a word, the party must provide the analysis of class and different interests, even those disguised in revolutionary phraseology. It must analyse what class interests are at play currently and how to make strategic interventions to guide the trade union movement and ensure that it protects not only its own class interests, but all working class interests.
There must be no poverty in theoretical understanding within the working class, and the party must lead in this task. We emphasise therefore that it is important for the Party to maintain its culture of deep scientific politics, not just politics in general. This point is very important to note as it distinguishes the Party and its policies from other political formations.
Science is defined as knowledge obtained through observation and critically tested and experimented and brought under one principle. That is how we have understood the party in all its existence.
There is a lot of work to be done by the party to defend the revolution and to provide the scientific tools needed for us all to consolidate our gains and deal with counter-revolutionary tendencies in our midst.
We need to defend our freedom and National Democratic Revolution, which is continuously being challenged and undermined by many forces and elements, coming in many forms and shapes for their own selfish and counter revolutionary interests.
The party must also play a leading role especially in articulating issues of non-racialism and the role of Trade Unions in the National Democratic Revolution, where a progressive and worker sensitive government is in power.
How do we define our respective roles in the leadership of society? It is the manner in which we lead society as a collective that in the main defines who we are as the Alliance.
We also need to correctly analyse the various interests and elements that constantly seek to create obstacles as we try to move forward with social and economic transformation in the country.
We must understand the elements that seek to undermine the ruling party and the unity of the Alliance.
We are called upon to analyse the prevailing conditions better and come out with solutions, as it is the ANC and SACP that are the most qualified to do so as political organisations. The failure of these two to analyse these conditions will lead others to occupy that space and reverse the gains of our revolution.
As we ponder the enormous work we must do, we are also celebrating.
We are celebrating the contribution of the party to the struggles of our people, and the unity that has prevailed between the party and the ANC, the leader of the Alliance.
We are celebrating a very unique relationship, which described eloquently by Comrade Oliver Tambo on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the SACP when he said:
"The relationship between the ANC and the SACP is not an accident of history, nor is it a natural and inevitable development. For, as we can see, similar relationships have not emerged in the course of liberation struggles in other parts of Africa".
We are acknowledging the tried and tested Alliance between the ANC, SACP and COSATU.
In the history of struggles across the world there are very few such relationships forged out of common struggles.
It is an Alliance that our people look up to and trust, as they know it is the only formation that is capable of delivering them from inequality and poverty.
Comrade Tambo described this Alliance very accurately. He said: "Ours is not merely a paper alliance, created at conference tables and formalised through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leaders.
"Our alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle. We have built it out of our separate and common experiences".
We must today recommit to strengthening the Alliance even further, and to build the ANC, so that it can continue to play its role as the leader of the Alliance. We are currently on a campaign to ensure that the ANC has one million members by the time it reaches its centenary next year.
We are confident of achieving this goal as the people's movement is growing, and remains very popular amongst our people. The ANC now has nine hundred and fourteen thousand, eight hundred and fifty two (914 852) members. During the National General Council, the membership stood at seven hundred and forty nine thousand, one hundred and twelve (749 112).
This means the ANC has grown by one hundred and ninety eight thousand and fifty seven (198 057) members in the past few months. We are very close to reaching our one million membership target, and will work round the clock to achieve that goal.
As we consolidate the gains of our freedom and democracy, we have to unite the Alliance more than ever before, in tribute to the memory of the gallant fighters who have emerged from the ranks of the party and the Alliance as a whole.
We have to unite the Alliance behind our existing programme of action, to deliver our people from poverty and inequality, and to improve the quality of life of all, especially the working class and the poor.
We will continue to work side by side with the SACP in strengthening this historic Alliance which has done so much in advancing the National Democratic Revolution.
We will continue working with COSATU, to take forward the struggle against poverty, inequality and deprivation amongst our people.
On this important occasion, it is important to remember what the Communist Manifesto says:
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
"Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes."
Happy 90th Anniversary to the vanguard of the working class!
Issued by the SACP, July 31 2011
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