Address by SACP General Secretary Cde Blade Nzimande at the 12th SACP Gauteng Provincial Congress
6 May 2018
Tribute to Karl Marx on the occasion of his birth day bicentenary
Tomorrow, Saturday 5 May 2018 is the birthday bicentenary of Karl Marx (5 May 1818 - 14 March 1883). Marx’s work inspired the founding of our Party and struggle, and indeed many other struggles for liberation from oppression, for democratic national sovereignty and social emancipation. The coincidence of this SACP Provincial Congress with Marx’s birth day bicentenary should be used as an opportunity to reflect extensively on his contribution in class struggle, including his development of the historical and dialectical materialist inquiry into, and analysis of society and the conditions underpinning its changes. Marx developed the materialist conception of history, which, as Frederick Engels puts it eloquently in Socialism: Scientific and Utopian,
“starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged.”
It is “From this point of view”, as Engels sums it up, that
“the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men’s brains, not in men’s better insights into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange. They are to be sought, not in the philosophy, but in the economics of each particular epoch.”
It was through his application of the materialist conception of history and materialist dialectics as the science of interconnections as opposed to idealism and metaphysics that Marx produced his profound critique of capitalism and developed the revolutionary theory of scientific socialism for the liberation of the oppressed and the emancipation of the working class. The best tribute we can bestow upon Marx on the occasion of his birthday bicentenary is to deepen class struggle to complete our national democratic revolution and build the indispensable basis for the advance of our society to socialism and a communist future.
Let us move our national democratic revolution on to a second radical phase!
Until recently, the national democratic revolution was consistently driven astray. The forces of corporate capture of the state and sections of our movement across all levels looked firmly in charge. Corruption was systematised and became widespread. Instead of dealing with the rot, state organs appeared either to be at the service of or turning a blind eye to the rot. Those who spoke out against corporate state capture were targeted and isolated by a variety of means. Rogue units were set up and unleashed against them. Smear campaigns were manufactured against the critiques of state capture. Now the fugitives are on the run. While they had captured the state, they are running away from being captured by the state.
There are visible signs of progress to stop the rot. However, there is a fight-back which we must not undermine. Our message is very clear against this. There is no turning back if we are to succeed to complete our liberation. If we are to succeed to achieve the emancipation of the working class, we must dismantle the networks of corporate capture both in the state and our movement but as well as in other areas of important societal activity. No one, regardless of who they are or pretend to be, must be allowed to take us back.
Our struggle was not founded for elitist groupings from the ranks of the formerly oppressed to collaborate with or replace the oppressor in the exploitation of the masses. Our struggle was not founded to sell South Africa to the highest bidders. It does not matter whether those highest bidders are South Africans or foreign nationals from India or elsewhere. This is why the state capture fugitives must be hunted down and brought to book. Their collaborators and those who offered complicity in their deeds must be held equally accountable. The assets acquired from state capture and other forms of corruption must be seized and restored to the service of the people as a whole with a focus especially on the workers and poor.
The national democratic revolution will succeed if we become successful to deal decisively with state capture and other forms of corruption and wrongdoing. The national democratic revolution will become successful if it is about the people and only the people rather than private interests and wrongdoers.
The national democratic revolution will succeed if we focus on radically reducing, and ultimately eliminating class, race and gender inequalities, unemployment, poverty and social insecurity. The national democratic revolution will succeed if we become successful in radically reducing, and intimately eliminating uneven development and distribution of resources and investment between rural and urban areas. Within urban areas, the national democratic revolution must radically reduce and ultimately eliminate uneven development and distribution of resources between suburbs and townships. The national democratic revolution must clear slumps, formalise informal settlements and develop them to become better places to live in.
These are some of the fundamental policy perspectives the SACP wants our ANC-headed Alliance to be reconfigured to rigorously pursue.
Let us develop a leading role to reconfigure our Alliance!
Now it is the time to match words with deeds.
We must build unity between what the Alliance says and what it does in practice. A reconfigured Alliance is centred on the principle of democratic consensus seeking consultation before any major policy decisions are made. A reconfigured Alliance functions as a strategic political centre. To this end there is a standing agreement in the form of an Alliance National Summit declaration. Now it is the time to walk the talk.
A reconfigured Alliance is a united Alliance. The unity must be visible in the everyday struggles of the people, in community struggles, in the struggles of industrial workers, in the struggles of public sector workers. Let us be frank, comrades. In every class struggle as in every war it is not only the programme and the strategic objectives that matter – the minute preparation, orientation and selection of the calibre entrusted with implementation in the state as in other key sites of struggle and significant centres of power equally matter, and cannot be left to one Alliance partner alone. The unity of a reconfigured Alliance must also be reflected in the exercise of the principle of collective leadership, deployments and robust accountability. The situation we had until recently, and of which still prevails in varying degrees at different levels of the Alliance, is completely unsustainable. It just has to stop altogether. The Alliance must be reconfigured if it is to hold going forward and become successful.
A reconfigured Alliance must not be seen in isolation from our primary historical mission as the Communist Party to unite the working class as whole based on workers’ common interests and demands. Neither must a reconfigured Alliance be confined to seeking meetings and to engagements in boardrooms important as those are. As the progressive trade union movement put it, you cannot win in any boardroom what you have not won on the ground.
A reconfigured Alliance therefore requires a consistent, deep-going programme to tilt the balance of forces on the ground, in all key sites of struggle and significant centres of power. A reconfigured Alliance requires that we consistently develop a vanguard role in articulating, revolutionising and taking forward the demands of the toiling and unemployed masses.
However, as our Party’s 14th Congress decided through its resolution on the SACP and state and popular power, we should not commit the strategic mistake of placing all our expectations and hopes in the single outcome of a reconfigured Alliance. We must not reduce the whole of our national democratic revolution and the struggle for socialism to the single outcome of a reconfigured Alliance. This is why we simultaneously need to intensify class struggle on the ground and deepen our efforts to unite the working class and the trade union movement as a whole.
Let us unite the working class, comrades!
We must rigorously implement, and at all levels, our 14th Congress SACP and state and popular power resolution to build a popular left front to advance the second radical phase of the national democratic revolution, our shortest and most direct route to socialism in the historical conditions obtaining in our country. The Communist Party is not a sectarian organisation. We must do our best to reach out and labour everywhere and at all the times to achieve working class unity. It is crucial to work hard to unite the trade union movement as a whole. If the trade union movement cannot, for now, unite under a single umbrella federation, it should at least agree to become united behind the common demands of the workers in the best interests of the workers. This is the programme the SACP is pursuing and will be deepening towards greater working class unity.
The SACP pledges its unwavering solidarity with the bus drivers in their struggle for decent work and a living wage.
On behalf of the SACP I was to make use of this occasion to express the Party’s solidarity with the bus drivers who have embarked on an industrial action. The strike is the mechanism of the last resort adopted by the workers to persuade their employers to accept their demands for decent work and a living wage. The SACP is calling on the employers to come to the party and end the strike by making an offer that the workers will accept.
The practice for instance of not paying a driver who is required to be on duty on the basis that it is another worker who is driving is problematic to say the least. This practice must just come to an end. All workers who are required to be on duty must be paid.
The SACP further congratulates the striking workers for showing leadership by displaying a peaceful conduct during their strike. Party organisations across the board should practically offer democratic support to the striking workers.
The SACP unwaveringly supports the living wage campaign as a whole and calls on workers to unite for socialism, the sustainable solution to capitalist inequality and exploitation.
Condolences to the families that lost their loved ones at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Masakhane mine in Driefontein
On behalf of our Central Committee, I want to make use of this occasion to convey our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the workers who died following seismic events on Thursday, 3 May 2018 at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Masakhane mine in Driefontein. A total of 13 workers were trapped underground following the seismic events at the mine and four were reported as dead (and three more were reported as dead by Sunday, 6 May 2017). On behalf of our entire leadership and membership, I want to pledge our Party’s unwavering solidarity with the workers and their families.
What exactly happened must be investigated to get to the root of the matter. In addition, a broad spectrum investigation is required to develop sustainable measures that will stop mine accidents once and for all. The SACP strongly condemns the display of an uncaring attitude by employers who elevate profit making and profit maximisation above the health and safety of workers and their fundamental right to life.
Safety on our roads and railway networks
The SACP denounces the conduct by some road users who expose the life of other road users and passengers to danger on our roads and railway networks. The April 27thaccident where seven people were killed when a driver of a pickup drove on to a railway level crossing at Buttskop in Blackheath leading to an oncoming train crashing into the car could have been avoided. On behalf of the SACP I want to make use of this occasion to express our sincere condolences to the bereaved families. It is very clear that measures must be tightened to stop such and other road and railway accidents.
SACP structures must take forward the Party’s Public Transport Campaign more rigorously and deepen it. There are many people pedestrians who die on our roads. The majority of reckless drivers are men, while women are good drivers in majority. We must congratulate our women drivers for the good conduct.
Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, Head of Communications & National Spokesperson, SACP, 6 May 2018