Address by ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Special National Congress of the South African Communist Party

9 July 2015, University of Johannesburg, Soweto Campus

Leadership of the South African Communist Party,
Leadership of the ANC, COSATU and SANCO,
Distinguished Guests,
Comrades and friends

I bring you revolutionary greetings from President Jacob Zuma and the entire leadership and membership of the African National Congress.

We are honoured to participate in the SACP`s 3rd Special National Congress, taking place among the masses of our people here in Soweto.

Since its founding 94 years ago, the SACP has remained a dependable ally not only of our liberation movement, but of the oppressed and exploited of South Africa.

It has been at the forefront of the struggle against racial discrimination and capitalist exploitation.

It has been embedded in the struggles of communities and in the mobilisation of workers.

The Communist Party was the first to feel the repressive wrath of the apartheid state and its members were prominent among the first men and women to take up arms to defend our people.

Our revolutionary alliance with the SACP was forged in the crucible of struggle where many cadres of our movement perished in the pursuit of freedom, social justice and equality.

Delivering an address at the 60th anniversary of the SACP in July 1981, ANC President Oliver Tambo described this unique bond. He said:

"The relationship between the ANC and the SACP is not an accident of history, nor is it a natural and inevitable development…

He went on to say:

"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.

"Within our revolutionary alliance each organisation has a distinct and vital role to play. A correct understanding of these roles, and respect for their boundaries has ensured the survival and consolidation of our cooperation and unity."

Throughout the years, the SACP has played a critical role in the ideological development of the liberation movement.

Its members have consciously and deliberately worked to build the structures of the African National Congress and to forge a progressive labour movement.

They have done so not as outsiders. Nor with ulterior motives.

They have done so as fully-fledged members of the ANC, understanding the need to build a powerful national liberation movement capable of advancing the National Democratic Revolution.

The ANC draws great strength from an incisive, activist, independentand supportive Communist Party.

In the SACP, the ANC has an ally that is equipped with a profound understanding of the South African situation, its contradictions, its challenges and its possibilities.

We look to this Special Congress to deepen that understanding and thereby to enrich debate within the Alliance and within society more broadly.

We expect that this Special Congress will further refine thinking within the Alliance on the radical, second phase of the National Democratic Revolution.

We expect that it will sharpen our collective understanding of the tasks of the moment.

The economic transformation we are undertaking is aimed atfundamentally changing the structure of our economy and patterns of ownership.

It aims to redistribute the nation`s wealth and ensure all South Africans have equal opportunities and capabilities.

It aims to set the country on a new, inclusive growth trajectory.

We look to this Special Congress to interrogate the actions we have so far taken to advance economic transformation and to critique and enhance our programme to deepen that transformation.

As the Alliance, we have been working to reduce poverty through theprovision of education, health care, basic services and public employment programmes.

We have achieved remarkable progress, but we need to do much more.

At the centre of our efforts, must be the task of building a capable state with a leading role in economic development.

This means that we need to continue to strengthen state-owned companies and to align their mandates and activities with the goal of radical social and economic transformation.

These companies must continue to ensure that public goods and services are accessible to the poor.

At the same time, they need to stimulate broader economic activity and promote greater investment from both public and private sources.

Radical economic transformation requires that we transform theworkplace, stripping it of the vestiges of apartheid, reducing inequality, developing the skills of workers and eradicating discrimination.

We are currently engaged in a dialogue with our social partners to introduce a national minimum wage and to take steps to reduce instability in the labour environment.

This provides us with a valuable opportunity to significantly advance the interests of workers.

It provides us with an opportunity to achieve agreement across society on some important elements of a broader effort to reduce inequality and improve the lives of the poor.

The Alliance has a responsibility to promote social cohesion and build a united nation.

We approach this responsibility understanding that until we address the material divide between white and black, between men and women,between urban and rural, between rich and poor, the dream of a united nation will remain elusive.


Over many decades of struggle, our Alliance has been given the responsibility by the people of this country to lead the struggle for theircomplete emancipation.

Our leaders fought, sacrificed and worked tirelessly to earn thisresponsibility.

But only by staying true to the cause of our people, will we remain worthy of this trust.

Only by mobilising across all strata in society - reaching beyond our immediate constituency - will we be able to build a united nation.

As Comrade Joe Slovo told us in the late eighties:

"The working class cannot play the key role by merely leading itself and sloganising about its historic mission. It must win popular acceptance on the ground as the most effective champion of the democratic aspirations of all the racially-oppressed groupings.

"It must work with, and provide leadership to, our youth, women, intellectuals, small traders, peasants, the rural poor and - yes - even the racially-dominated black bourgeoisie, all of whom are a necessary part of the broad front of our liberation struggle. "

Leadership will be earned because we are trusted by our people.

They will trust us because they will see in their every day lives the changes that - working with them - we have been able to achieve.

They will see that we do not take their support for granted.

They will see us among them, with them, hard at work.

They will find our members and leaders to be the most committed, honest, humble and selfless members of their communities.

That is the standard to which we must hold ourselves.

It is the standard set by leaders like Yusuf Dadoo, Moses Kotane, JBMarks, Ray Alexander, Joe Slovo, Dorothy Nyembe and Chris Hani.

If we are to meet this standard, we need to continually sharpen ourtheory of revolution.

We need to improve our ability to analyse the present conjuncture and understand the currents that are shaping our country, our continent and our world.

This means that we need to focus far more attention on the political development of the membership of our respective formations.

The ideological perspective of the NDR should be well understood and assimilated by our members.

We must vigorously engage in the battle of ideas and defend theprogramme of the movement in public discourse.

We will achieve this not by shouting the loudest.

We must seek to persuade. We must be ready to debate.

We must fight for the unity of the Alliance and the unity of our respective organisations.

This means that we need to deepen democratic practice within our structures.

We must empower our members to decide our policies and programmes and to freely elect our leaders.

Our liberation movement must be an activist movement taking up theday-to-day struggles of all our communities.

We must resist the tendency to see ourselves first and foremost as a governing Alliance.

We are a liberation movement. Our central responsibility is to organise and mobilise the masses to achieve their own liberation.

We contest state power in the exercise of that responsibility.

It is a means to an end. It is not an end in itself.


The SACP has long been distinguished by its capacity for honest reflection and self-criticism.

In the preparations for this Special Congress - and indeed during the deliberations here - we have witnessed a frank engagement about the strengths and weaknesses of the Party, the ANC and the Alliance.

We welcome the opportunity that this Congress provides for a critical assessment of our collective achievements and shortcomings.

We welcome also the frank appraisal of the state of the ANC and the broader democratic movement.

Much of it accords with our own assessments.

Some of it we may want to contest.

But these are things that need to be said, because in most instances, they are things that need to be addressed.

As the African National Congress, we need to take notice when theSACP asserts that our ideological coherence has weakened.

We must agree with the SACP when it says that factionalism within the ANC has little to do with principled strategic issues, and more to do withcontests for positions and access to resources.

The SACP rightly calls for the revival of popular activism in ANC branches.

It is right to identify as critical the task of re-building Cosatu, with an emphasis on internal democracy, worker control and service to memberson the shopfloor.

It is right to deliberate on the relationship of the SACP to the state and how the exercise of state power can be better used to advance the struggles of the working class.

These issues are vital if the SACP is to advance its historical mission.

They are vital to the continued existence and relevance of the Alliance.

Comrades and friends,

Let me conclude with the words of President Oliver Tambo at the 48th ANC National Conference in Durban in July 1991. He said:

"We did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times. We were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them.

"Above all we succeeded to foster and defend the unity of the ANC and the unity of our people in general. Even in bleak moments, we were never in doubt regarding the winning of freedom.

"We have never been in doubt that the people`s cause shall triumph."

This Special Congress of the South African Communist Party reaffirms that we are ready to accept our mistakes and correct them.

It reaffirms our commitment to the unity of the movement and the people.

Most importantly, it reinforces our determination and our conviction that - no matter the difficulties of the moment - the people`s cause musttriumph and shall triumph.

I thank you.