Umsebenzi – September 2002
This article is a summary of the assessment of the 11th Congress conducted by the first plenary session of the 11th Congress Central Committee of the South African Communist Party (SACP) held from 23 August.
The 11th SACP Congress, with 844 voting delegates from 337 branches around the country, was the largest Congress the Communist Party has ever held in its 81-year history. The Congress marked a significant moment in the Party’s development, and it had an important political impact on our country.
The strategic slogan of the Congress was: "With and for the workers and the poor!" The message was clear, eight years into our new democratic dispensation, we have notched up enormous gains. However, our country remains on an accumulation path that is, fundamentally, unfavourable to workers and the poor:
- The job-loss blood-bath continues unabated;
- Many workers who are lucky to be employed find themselves casualised, or in temporary employment, and generally less protected – despite good labour laws passed since 1994;
- Notwithstanding some modest "de-racialisation" in the middle and upper strata of our society, the levels of class and racial inequality remain a national disgrace;
- Poverty is deep-seated, and rising food prices, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the plight of women, and growing unemployment are worsening poverty in many respects.
The 11th Congress sent out a very clear message. The SACP, working very closely with its alliance partners (the ANC, COSATU, and the broad mass democratic movement) is determined to ensure that the aspirations, concerns, and perspectives of workers and the broader urban and rural poor become the dominant voice in our country. These are the core motive forces of our national democratic revolution. The SACP will do everything to ensure that these motive forces are not de-mobilised, displaced, or replaced. The workers and the poor are the bed-rock of our struggle.
The success and confidence of the 11th Congress reflect many realities. The strategic slogan first advanced in 1995 – "Socialism is the future, build it now!" has, over the past 7 years, acquired greater substance and meaning. It has enabled us to engage actively and confidently on the terrain of the NDR as socialists.
Since the Party’s 1998 Congress, the SACP, in its own right, has more confidently led a series of campaigns and struggles – particularly around co-operatives and for the transformation and diversification of the financial sector. The 11th Congress provided an important forum in which to assess these struggles.
In particular, the financial sector campaign has highlighted the need for, and the appropriateness of, a principled socialist perspective in the present. The SACP led the financial sector campaign unapologetically from our anti-capitalist standpoint. We high-lighted how the profit-seeking private banks that dominate the sector are unable to meet the needs of the poor. We campaigned against the extortionate practices of the loan-sharks. We high-lighted the undemocratic and immoral power of the credit bureaux. We called for a strengthening of public sector and co-operative banking.
All of these perspectives were fostered by our strategic orientation ("socialism is the future, build it now"). But, importantly, in the course of taking up these issues, we rallied over 50 different formations into the campaign – including, not just our trade union allies, but co-op structures, black business and petty traders, religious formations, and many others. We also won over government on key perspectives.
The 11th Congress re-affirmed, with greater emphasis, the SACP’s conviction that the NDR itself requires the active propagation of socialist perspectives. In short, the 11th Congress was a moment in the Party’s history in which we began to assert more positively and more consistently who we ARE.
Of course, many in the media tried to present this strong, independent SACP voice as a "threat" or "challenge" to the alliance. Quite the contrary. We are convinced that a strong alliance requires a strong, independent-minded, but constructive SACP that makes no apologies for its socialist values and analyses.
Guided by this general conviction, the 11th Congress adopted several key resolutions and a broad programme of action for the coming five years.
The 11th Congress resolved that local governance and local economic development will become the "centre of gravity" for our Party in the years ahead. We will ensure that our growth and development strategy perspectives are implemented at this level. We will focus on local governance transformation through strengthening the delivery capacity of our municipalities by building people’s power (Community Policing Forums, Ward
Committees, School Governing Bodies, strengthening party branches and districts, etc). We aim to achieve this by accelerating the elaboration and implementation of integrated development plans (IDPs), guided by our developmental perspectives of local economic development, industrial policies, mobilisation of domestic resources, and building people’s power.
The Congress linked this focus on local development to the building of a co-operative movement through mobilisation of our people, as well as engaging government at all levels to create a gendered and appropriate legislative, policy, and financing framework for the building of such co-operatives.
The Congress consolidated perspectives on our long-standing call for a vigorous industrial policy – which, while involving core manufacturing, must also encompass mining, agriculture, services and the ‘new economy’. By industrial policy we mean a policy-led process of state interventions to drive and promote sectoral growth and development. Industrial policy is broader than a "competitiveness strategy" (to which it is often reduced in our domestic debate) although it cannot, of course, ignore this dimension.
Private capital is objectively incapable, out of its own volition, to plan, invest in, and lead economic infrastructure projects that are often critical to promoting investment in productive enterprises. Domestic and foreign private capital follow growth, they do not lead it. Private capital has failed to invest in viable projects to create strategic industrial capacity in "emerging markets" ahead of a proven record of profitability.
The goals of job retention, job creation and poverty eradication are central to our vision of industrial strategy. We are not convinced that it is a foregone conclusion that jobs must continue to be lost in agriculture, mining and formal manufacturing. We believe that these sectors can and must become sectors of job creation.
While the SACP has focused for some years on the struggle for a more effective industrial policy, the 11th Congress has introduced other complementary themes more forcefully on to the SACP agenda. In the coming months and years the SACP intends to focus more effectively on a variety of issues related to the "informal" sector, and to general social security. These include:
- Giving higher priority than hitherto to strategies for basic needs
production, and the development of non-tradable service sectors;
- A massive public works programmes, using job intensive methods and linked
to infrastructure development;
- A major focus on helping to build self-sustaining communities – this
must be linked to much more rapid land reform, the fostering of food gardens
in rural and urban townships, and the building of a peoples cooperative
- The development of a comprehensive social security system – including
the extension of the child support grant to poor children beyond the
existing 7 year ceiling, testing the possibilities of introducing a Basic
Income Grant, and the use of a publicly-owned and much better resourced
Postbank network as the preferred delivery mechanism.
- Much greater attention to land reform, agrarian policy, and the marketing and distribution of key food staples. The SACP believes that rural struggles have been neglected, and that much greater attention is required in this area, ensuring that the key motive forces in the rural areas – the impoverished rural masses, most of them women - are empowered to impact directly on evolving policy and programmes.
The 11th Congress also adopted an important resolution on the re-establishment of a Young Communist League. In part, this responds to a powerful popular demand from thousands of young people. Young workers, high school students and students in tertiary institutions and many others yearn for a socialist organisational home. Many young people are disgusted by the selfish dog-eats-dog, made-in-the-USA culture that proliferates in our country. The Congress has outlined concrete practical steps that must be taken to ensure that a YCL is launched by mid-2003. The socialist energies and aspirations of thousands of young South Africans, drawn from a generation that is carrying the burden of unemployment, the African underdevelopment crisis, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, will become a critical factor in the unfolding NDR.
The 11th Congress of the SACP sent a powerful message to our country. The SACP Congress affirmed the finest traditions of our liberation movement – our commitment to non-racialism, our selfless positioning in the trench of the most marginalized, our preparedness to speak up critically and constructively. It was a message that even the liberal media could not fail to notice. The national prestige of the SACP has had to be acknowledged once more, even by our ideological opponents. In the coming months and years, the SACP and its cadres will take up the strategic perspectives, the programmes of action, and the resolutions of the 11th Congress…with and for – the workers and the poor!
The Financial Sector Summit: A People’s Advance Towards Poverty Eradication, With And For The Workers And The Poor
By Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary
The holding of the financial sector summit in NEDLAC on 20 August 2002, and the agreements reached therein, marked one of the most historic and significant gains for the workers and the poor of our country. Through the SACP-led campaign for the transformation and the diversification of the financial sector, far-reaching agreements were concluded. This marks a new era towards the transformation of banks and the financial sector in general and the development of a credit regime orientated towards the development needs of the majority of the people of our country. This is indeed a major victory for the SACP and validates our line that building people’s power through mass mobilisation – underpinned by democratic state power - is our most crucial weapon in deepening and consolidating the national democratic revolution.
In October 2000, the SACP launched, through the Red October Campaign, a massive campaign for the banks and other financial institutions to serve the people. Through our Red Saturday in October 2000, more than 40 000 workers and poor people of our country staged nation-wide marches, demonstrations and pickets calling for the transformation of the financial sector to serve the developmental needs of our country. Sceptics, cynics and anti-working class and anti-poor elements, and strangely even some from within the ranks of our own movement condemned our campaign as ill advised, short-sighted and adventurist.
However, right from its launch, the campaign won the hearts of millions of our people and thousands of them participated in not only the demonstrations, marches and pickets, but also in hundreds of mass meetings and report-backs throughout the country. The support and impact of the campaign is proved by the fact that, only after 20 months the NEDLAC summit reached agreement on practically all the issues we had campaigned for, and mainly along the lines we had demanded. In the first instance we demanded a summit at NEDLAC and the banks and financial sector bosses initially rejected this and sought to undermine the convening of such a summit, and instead wanted to seek refuge in the Reserve Bank and through government. They vehemently argued that our campaign was going to destabilise our "first world" financial and banking system through unreasonable and unattainable demands.
Our campaign was launched as part of our year 2000 focus on the mobilisation of our people towards poverty eradication. Through this campaign we were practically and concretely seeking to challenge the neo-liberal notion and orthodoxy that economic growth and development in our country will mainly come through adopting measures of liberalisation and privatisation in order to attract foreign direct investment. As the SACP, through our 1999 and 2000 strategy conferences, we had correctly argued that no African country, based on past experiences, can ever achieve economic growth and development through FDI – desirable as FDI is - without sustained mobilisation of domestic financial, human and material resources. Concrete experience tells us that FDI tends to follow rather than create growth. This campaign was also based on our argument that without a coherent state-driven industrial policy, including in the financial sector, no significant economic growth and development will take place.
At the same time we understood that without the mass mobilisation of our people, there could be no change from the dominant apartheid capitalist system and its financial institutions towards addressing the needs of the overwhelming majority of our people.
During our campaign we had demanded and, at the NEDLAC Summit got agreement on legislation and policy framework for co-operative banks and other types of micro-credit, financial co-operatives. During our campaign the building of co-operative banks came to be the major demand from amongst our people. Related to this was an agreement on major banks working towards universal access to banking services for the poor, particularly the rural masses and those who receive old-age pensions. We would indeed continue to struggle that these services are immediately made available, and extended to all those who receive state grants, including child grants and the disabled.
Agreement on urgent steps towards the regulation of micro-lending and the loan sharks is one of the most important achievements of our campaign, as well as an agreement on the regulation of the credit bureaux, as part of forging a developmental and affordable credit regime in our country. A commitment to exploring automatic insurance cover of up to a bond of R150 000 for all, including those of our people who are HIV positive is indeed a path breaking achievement. This will go a long way towards saving houses for Aids orphans and towards ending unfair discrimination against the HIV positive.
All the agreements reached for affordable and just access to finance for the working people and the poor are but the first, albeit very important, step in the struggle for transformation of the financial sector. Our ultimate goal as the SACP is the socialisation of the financial sector – a people-centred and people-driven financial sector serving the interests of the overwhelming majority of our people. The agreement at NEDLAC is an important building block towards this end as it advances our goal of rolling back the market in order to meet the basic needs of our people.
The challenge for the SACP and millions of our people now is not to demobilise, but to continue with our mobilisation in order to ensure that these commitments by finance capital are implemented. We need to build on the NEDLAC commitment that the task teams will meet on a monthly basis to ensure the implementation of these agreements. This will have to be underpinned by mass mobilisation focusing on public report backs to our people, mobilisation to build co-operative banks. This mobilisation must also be directed towards having an effective control and say over the investment of our burial societies and stokvel monies; and for workers to have control over the investments of their pension and provident funds. The SACP and all the other mass formations, which are part of our campaign, need to generally stay vigilant to expose any discriminatory practices in the financial sector. Without this mass vigilance and mobilisation capital will easily lapse back to the comforts of apartheid type financial services.
Most critically, we need to strengthen the Banks Campaign Forum, made up of more than 55 organisations that joined the campaign. We need to ensure that this forum truly spearheads a mass movement for the transformation of the financial sector. Part of the strengthening of the Forum should involve the replication of such structures at provincial, district and branch levels. We need to earnestly engage banks and other financial institutions in our localities, mobilise stokvels, savings clubs, credit co-operatives, small and micro businesses and burial societies in our own localities. Through this we can indeed build a powerful mass movement for socio-economic transformation, with a particular focus on the financial sector.
In fact the major lesson out of our financial sector campaign is that we need to rebuild a mass movement for socio-economic transformation through working class driven campaigns directed at the gender, class and racial legacies of apartheid and capitalism. It is only through this focus that we will realise our programmatic slogan "Socialism is the Future, Build it Now - With and For the Workers and the Poor!"
Summary of agreements at NEDLAC
Legislation to create third tier financial institutions, including co-operative banks
Regulation of the credit bureaux to make sure they operate in a transparent, fair and developmental way, ensuring accuracy and consumer protection
Immediate discussions on how to deal with micro-lenders and protect our people from loan-sharks
Ending all forms of gender and racially based discrimination and promote measures to lend to the poor
Measures to end redlining of areas
Ending unfair discrimination against HIV positive people, including access to bonds
Jointly explore developmental investments to create jobs and meet basic needs
Complete review of the regulatory regime of the financial services sector in order to harmonise such regulation towards developmental objectives
Strengthening the role of public financial institutions, in particular the Postbank, in order to service the needs of the poor
To mobilise our people’s savings, promote a savings culture in order to direct these towards our developmental goals
The newly elected Central Committee of the SACP met in Johannesburg on the 23-24 August. Among the key items of the agenda of the Central Committee were:
An assessment of the political impact of the SACP’s 11th Congress (24-28 July), and the taking forward of the resolutions adopted by Congress
A report on the SACP led financial sector campaign and the outcome of the past week’s NEDLAC financial sector summit
The World summit on sustainable development; and
Alliance matters including the forthcoming ANC Policy Conference and 51st National Conference
The 11th Congress
In its assessment of the 11th Congress, the CC considered the Congress to have marked a very important qualitative step in the SACP’s history. It was the largest Congress ever held in the Party’s 81 year history, and it was characterised by a clear insistence from delegates from all over the country to assert more forcefully the SACP’s distinct individuality, programmes and perspectives, but within the context of a strong commitment to an ANC led alliance. The CC believes that underpinning this correct stance is the SACP’s analysis of current trends within our society. Despite major progressive advances, the accumulation trajectory in our country continues to be one in which mass job losses persist, systemic inequality remains entrenched and poverty and marginalisation is the lot of the great majority of our people.
The CC reaffirmed the Congress perspective that the SACP needs boldly and unapologetically to be a party with and for the workers and the poor. In the coming months and from the bais of these perspectives, the SACP will engage energetically and constructively with the ANC Policy Conference and National Conference preparations.
The NEDLAC Financial Sector Summit
The convening of the NEDLAC Financial Sector Summit to address the role of the financial sector in economic growth and development, the plight of millions of South Africans who find themselves unbanked, the victims of ruthless loan sharks, powerful but hidden Credit Bureaux, red-lining and other practices, has been a central demand of a 2 year Campaign led by the SACP and involving more than 55 other formations. The convening, last week, of the NEDLAC Financial Services Summit represented an important achievement of the Campaign, and the CC salutes the tens of thousands of South Africans who participated in marches, pickets, rallies and discussion forums.
The Summit reached agreements on : -
Policy and Legislative Framework on Co-operative Banks
Support for Co-operative Banks and Non-profit micro-lenders
State Regulation of Credit Bureaux
Lifeline Banking Services
Capital Markets and Investments including prescribed assets
Ending of discrimination in the financial sector including redlining
The need to Review and Democratise the Regulatory Framework governing the Financial Sector
Domestic Savings Initiatives
The Consolidation and Strengthening of Public Financial Institutions (state-owned)
In the coming months the SACP, together with its allies and Communist organisations will be taking forward the campaign – ensuring implementation of agreements.
The 2002 Red October Campaign
The CC endorsed, for this year’s Red October campaign, a programme of mobilisation and a comprehensive social security system. The objectives of the Campaign will be to highlight the plight of the retrenched, unemployed, the semi-employed, the young, the elderly, the disabled and, indeed, of all those who are marginalised in our society. The Campaign will also seek to contribute constructively to the unfolding national debate on social security and poverty alleviation and taking forward government’s campaign to register those who qualify to but are outside the social security net.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development
The CC was meeting on the eve of the historic WSSD that will bring together thousands of delegates from all over the world. The SACP welcomes the WSSD, we take pride in the fact that it is being hosted in our country, and we look forward to engaging with other participants. The SACP shares the fundamental perspective underpinning the WSSD- the future of humanity and our planet depends on sustainable development. Implicit in this perspective is a recognition that the present global trajectory is not sustainable. As a communist party we are convinced that the major barriers to sustainable development arise from fundamental characteristics of the system of globalised capitalism. It is widely recognised that the patterns off production and consumption prevailing in the advanced capitalist countries cannot simply be extended throughout the world without destroying the world without destroying the planet’s resource base. What is more, the fabulous wealth and opulent consumption of a few can only be sustained through the subjection of the majority of the world’s people to exploitation, marginalisation and poverty.
The SACP will be joining it alliance partners in the global march for sustainable development on 31 August.
The SACP condemns those who seek to disrupt rather than to engage the Summit.
The Jeremy Cronin Interviews
The Central Committee discussed the interviews given by our Deputy General Secretary, Comrade Jeremy Cronin, to an Irish academic several months ago. The CC accepted Comrade Cronin’s explanation that there was no intention to have these interviews published in their present form.
The CC noted, further, that these interviews had been posted many months before on a personal website. The CC expressed a concern that the sudden publicity given to these interviews on the eve of our 11th Congress may not have been fortuitous, and may well have been an intended but failed attempt to distract attention from the many important resolutions taken at our Congress. The CC expressed its full confidence in our Deputy General Secretary, and we consider the issue closed.
There are, of course, many other issues of substance, that have surfaced in the course of this matter relating to organisational challenges, the core principles of our struggle and the handling of difference between and within our organisations. The SACP will be taking these up in the appropriate forums in the coming period.
The Young Communist League
The CC also approved a report and programme for the re-establishment of the Young Communist League by July 2003.
The CC elected the members of the SACP Political Bureau as follows: -
The SACP Politburo also includes the officials elected at the 11th Congress.Co-options to the CC
The CC also co-opted the following veterans: -
- The Government, Business, Community and Labour constituencies at NEDLAC began meeting at the beginning of 2002 in order to agree on strategies to ensure the financial sector is more efficient in the delivery of financial services, which will enhance national savings and direct them to developmental purposes. The proposed strategies should assist the financial sector:
- To provide sustainable and affordable banking services, contractual savings schemes and credit for small and micro enterprise and poor households,
- To support higher levels of savings and investment overall,
- To expand developmental investments that create jobs, raise living standards and strengthen the economy, and
- To encourage broader and more representative ownership, control and employment within the financial sector itself and in the economy as a whole.
- To achieve these aims requires a financial sector which is more diverse in
terms of the nature, size and ownership of institutions. All its different
components must assume a strong developmental role.
- Today, on the anniversary of the launching of the United Democratic Front, the parties agree on the following proposals. These agreements must be seen as a package.
3.1. Ensuring access to basic financial services: To engage effectively in the economy, encourage savings and improve the quality of life, every South African resident should have access to affordable and convenient payments and savings facilities. Both the public and private sector financial institutions must play a role in achieving these aims.
3.2. The parties will jointly research the economics of basic financial services and on that basis establish mechanisms and timeframes for achieving universal access.
3.3. Development of sustainable institutions to serve poor communities. While the large formal financial institutions have an important role to play in providing services for the poor. They must interact with and support smaller institutions, especially co-operative banks and NGOs that can provide micro-credit to the poorest households. We need to harness the energies of the existing institutions in our communities, such as stokvels and burial societies, in order to mobilise our people's savings. The smaller financial institutions serve to increase the diversity of the sector and broaden ownership.
3.4. The parties agree on the need for new enabling legislation for so-called second and third tier deposit-taking financial institutions. As a start, they have agreed key principles for legislation for financial co-operatives. The legislation should ensure that these institutions operate according to co-operative principles and enjoy adequate prudential oversight.
3.5. Following the Summit, the parties will also make proposals on ways to enhance the developmental impact of the regulatory framework.
3.6. The parties also agree that all the constituencies should seek to support financial co-operatives and micro-credit providers. After the Summit, they will engage on a concrete support programme.
3.7. In the absence of realistic alternatives, many wage-earners have had to resort to micro-lenders when they need credit. In too many instances, the result has been an accumulation of excessive debt at a high price. Following the Summit, the parties will propose appropriate regulation for micro-lenders to minimise the negative effects of usurious practices.
3.8. Regulation of credit bureaux. Credit bureaux should play a positive role by providing creditors with necessary information on potential borrowers, which will reduce information asymmetries in the market. The parties have proposed elements of a regulatory framework to ensure that they supply only reliable information that is relevant to a person's creditworthiness; that they are more open to consumer complaints; and that there is no scope for unfair discrimination in their operations.
3.9. Discrimination. The parties have agreed that, within the context of the Equality Act of 2000, every subsector within the financial sector should establish or strengthen a code to end unfair discrimination. Government should legislate uniform norms on disclosure of financial services by race, gender, location and categories of amount. People who face unfair discrimination should have an effective route for adjudication.
3.10. HIV/AIDS. The parties are particularly concerned about the need to end unfair discrimination against people with HIV and develop appropriate services for them. Following the Summit, they will work together to achieve this end, and especially to ensure that people with HIV have improved access to housing finance and other services.
3.11. Capital markets and investment. The parties agree on the need to increase overall investment and in particular projects that strengthen infrastructure, create jobs, meet basic needs, stimulate economic activity in the poorest regions and communities of South Africa and/or support development throughout southern Africa. They agree on the need to establish a system to identify these projects. On that basis, they will engage around the establishment of realistic targets and monitoring mechanisms. In addition, they will develop training for fund managers and retirement-fund trustees to enable them to adopt more informed and appropriate investment strategies.
3.12. Development finance institutions (DFIs) and other state-owned financial institutions. Following the Summit, the parties will make proposals around the developmental impact of these institutions and, if necessary, recommend improvements. A particular concern is to ensure that the PostBank should maintain and expand its services to poor communities.
3.13. Savings initiatives. The parties have agreed on activities to promote a savings culture, mobilise our people around the need to increase savings and improve the savings facilities available to all our people.The parties recognise that the proposed measures require a great deal of work following the Summit. We have agreed to meet at least once a month to review progress and strengthen our proposals. To ensure our success in this process, the NEDLAC constituencies commit to providing the necessary capacity, time, energy and enthusiasm.
Signed on 20th of August, 2002, in Pretoria.
By Charles Nqakula, SACP National Chairperson
Comrades from allied formations, Comrades from international delegations and international guests, Members of the diplomatic corps, Media representatives and Comrade delegates, it is my privilege to welcome you all to this 11th Congress of the SACP. The convening of a national Congress provides us, as SACP members, together with our friends and allies, an opportunity to take stock, to note the historic progress made by our Party and our NLM in the past few years. It also gives us the opportunity to ask the hard questions, to square up honestly to challenges, shortcomings, and lessons to be learned.
This Congress belongs to us collectively, the delegates. Congress is our highest policy-making body and the success of the Congress and of the SACP going forward depend, therefore, on the energy, the experience, the concerns, the collective work, that we all put in over these next five days.
The CC will be presenting, through our General Secretary, an extensive Political Report. The CC has also prepared an extensive draft programme that you have been discussing, through its different drafts, in your branches, districts and provinces.
The following five days present us with a collective opportunity to debate and shape the Party’s analysis of the present, and to chart the way forward. Importantly, this Congress precedes the ANC Policy Conference and the ANC National Conference. As we discuss, we should never forget the opportunities and the responsibilities that these major forthcoming national events present to this Congress. We are not engaged in a monologue with ourselves.
Last year, the SACP celebrated its 80th anniversary, 80 years of unbroken Communist activity in this southern part of the African continent. 80 years of worker education pioneered in night schools by TW Thibedi. 80 years of political umrabulo in the tradition of Ivon Jones, Eddie Roux, Johnny Gomas and Albert Nzula.
80 years of selfless trade union work, by stalwarts like JB Marks, Ray Alexander and Billy Nair. 80 years of non-racialism, personified by a Braam Fischer. Practical organisational work amongst the workers and the poor, in the tradition of a Moses Kotane or a Dora Tamana. 80 years of radical, progressive journalism, pioneered by Edwin Mofutsanyana, Govan Mbeki, and many others.
This Congress is the custodian of these traditions.
The SACP is the organisational expression of ideals that have inspired (and that continue to inspire) millions. Some, like Johannes Nkosi and Chris Hani, have paid the ultimate price for these ideals.
Some comrades, perhaps comrades from other parts of the world, might wonder why, if we are now nearly 81 years old, we are only holding an 11th Congress.
In fact, between July 1921 and the banning of the Communist Party of SA in 1950, there were regular, often annual, national conferences. Ours is the 11th Congress counting from 1953, the year of the SACP’s secret re-launching in the deepest underground.
Between 1953 and 1989 there were 7 congresses held by the SACP, most of them held in the diaspora of exile, with delegates making their way from the furthest corners of the globe. Indeed, it is a sobering thought to remind ourselves that it was just 13 years ago, in August 1989, that a still banned SACP was holding its 7th Congress in the Caribbean, thanks to the generosity of the Cuban Communist Party. At that congress there were about 100 delegates, some of them were in disguise, having left SA secretly to come to Congress. (Some of them are here today – but, as far as I can tell, they are now out of disguise).
In the 13 years since then there have been massive changes globally and locally here in SA – some entirely progressive, other posing complex new problems.
What are the challenges facing this Congress? There are many, but there are four that stand out as fundamental:
Governance – the SACP is not a ruling party in the strict sense of the word. Since the late 1920s, as an integral part of our strategy, South African communists have worked tirelessly to help build a mass-based, broad, well resourced ANC – capable of leading the national liberation struggle, and capable, eventually, of governing our country in the complicated revolutionary tasks of nation building and democratisation.
Since 1994 South African communists, together with other comrades, have worked very hard to ensure the ANC wins an overwhelming electoral majority – in the local, provincial and national spheres. And we have succeeded – four times over.
Since 1994 thousands of SACP members have been serving in government positions, in key departments, in local councils, in national and provincial cabinets.
What is more, since 1994, together with the ANC, COSATU and our other partners, we have sought to develop innovative forms of governance. Governance is NOT just government. Governance includes Community Policing Forums, School Governing Bodies, Ward Committees, popular participation in legislatures, and a hundred other ways of ensuring that citizens are active in governance.
The SACP is, to repeat, not a ruling party in the strict sense of the word, but we have never excused ourselves from the responsibilities of governance. We recognise, affirm and work very hard for the leading role of the ANC, including in government. The SACP is not oppositionist, and we are not abstentionist.
This Congress needs to reflect on the many positive lessons and advances we have made on the front of governance over the past 8 years, and it needs to help us to chart ever more effective ways to enhance the SACP governance contribution.
Being practical – related to the above is the imperative of being practical, of being relevant as an SACP to the challenges that are facing our country, our region and our world. We must not be like the philosophers described by Marx, who have been content to merely interpret the world (although that, too, is a major challenge). We also want to change the world, especially this part of the world.
This Congress cannot discuss and analyse the world in ignorance of the huge challenges and crises outside the walls of this Civic Centre – the grim plague of starvation that is currently sweeping across much of our Southern African region; the HIV/AIDS epidemic; the 37 per cent unemployment levels, poverty and deep-seated inequality in our own society. Ours is not to lament – but to square up bravely to these challenges, in practical ways.
But this Congress will have an especial significance, an especial relevance, if we demonstrate that socialism has something very important to contribute to the challenges elaborated in, for instance, NEPAD. We must continue to demonstrate that a socialist analysis, socialist organisation, a socialist morality are absolutely critical to the tasks of advancing, deepening, and defending our NDR.
In taking forward this socialist contribution, we are particularly pleased to have amongst us delegations from fraternal communist and progressive left parties from many parts of the world. Over the last decade, the SACP has benefited greatly from the numerous international exchanges with fraternal parties. We take this opportunity to congratulate those parties that remain governing parties in their respective societies, taking forward the socialist cause in an often hostile global situation. We also salute comrades and parties with a vast experience of socialist struggles in various contexts. We know that this Congress will, once more, benefit from your presence.
Ultimately, the challenge of this Congress is to live up to the content and spirit of the slogan under which we are convening – With and for…the workers and the poor!
In everything we do, in our discussions and resolutions, let us ensure, comrades, that this 11th Congress occupies the trench of the workers and the poor.
It is a great privilege to declare the 11th Congress of the South African Communist Party open.
The Tudeh Party of Iran has initiated a declaration by the communist and workers parties in support of Peace, democracy and Social Justice in the Middle East. A number of parties including CP Potugal, CP Iraq, CP Britain, AKEL, CP India, CP Ireland, CP France, PDS Germany, CP Belgium, CP Catalonia, Party of Democracy and Socialism of Moroco, Party of Democracy and Socialism of Algeria have already signed the declaration. The Tudeh Party aims to publish this statement in the press and in particular in the next issue of our party paper (next week) to coincide with the 22nd anniversary of the start of the Iran- Iraq war (September 1980).
The text of this statement reads as follows.
In Defence of Peace, Democracy and Social Justice in the Middle East
We, the undersigned Communist and workers Parties, express our profound concern about the critical situation developing in Middle East and the danger of a conflagration which no doubt destabilise the whole region. The stationing of massive US military forces, the provocative and hegemonist statements by the Bush administration and threat to use force to change the political map of the region are endangering peace.
We are appalled to witness the hardening of attitudes on the part of the Israel on the Palestinian issue and the criminal behaviour of the Sharon government in brutally suppressing the just movement of the Palestinian people for national rights and self-government.
We are fundamentally opposed to the threats by the US administration to initiate a military conflict against Iraq or any other country in the world under any pretext.We believe that change of the dictatorial regime in Iraq and democratisation of that country is the sole responsibility of the Iraqi people and their political forces.
We call for an end to all provocations and policies and actions threatening to bring about a military conflict in the Middle East. We call on all governments to abide by the UN resolutions and strictly respect the terms of UN charter.
We believe that the ideals of peace, democracy, human rights and social justice are intrinsically interlinked. We support the struggle of the people of Palestine for their national rights. We condemn the use of terror by states and individuals the same. We support the popular struggles for democracy, human rights and social justice in all countries of the region including Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan and others.
The movement for world Peace and the struggle for human rights and democracy and against occupation and terror are inseparable. We are supporters of peace and people’s movements.
The 11th Congress of the SACP received messages of support from the ANC (Mosiua Lekota, COSATU (Zwelinzima Vavi) and SANCO (Mlungisi Hlongwane). We publish extracts from these messages.
… a common experience that stretches over many decades has taught us, in struggle, that in the South African Communist Party, we have a dependable comrade-in-arms.
We also bring our sincere message of solidarity and best wishes because we know that what we set out to do together and achieve, many years ago, has not yet been realised. The all-round emancipation of the black oppressed in our country, which brought us together into our broad movement for national liberation, is an objective that we must continue to pursue, together. …
In the eight years since our liberation we have made important advances in changing the lives of our people for the better. Within the constraints of the means available to us, we have moved steadily towards the realisation of the goal of a better life for all. …
The period in which we live and engage in struggle is both exciting and challenging. It shows a lot of promise even as it is clear that we have to confront many obstacles and overcome the strong resistance of those who have a vested interest in the perpetuation of the global imbalances and inequalities that continue to disfigure the world. What this demands is that we must ensure that the organisations of our revolutionary alliance, including the SACP, remain strong, in dynamic contact with the masses of our people and capable of playing their role in the pursuit of the common cause of reconstruction and development.
It demands of all of us that we take the greatest care to elaborate policies and adopt programmes of action that will actually help to mobilise and unite the people and all progressive forces around clear and attainable goals. We, more than anybody else, have a responsibility to unite the masses of the people in struggle, and neither divide nor demobilise them.
The tasks ahead of us also require that we pay the greatest attention to the principled unity of our alliance. We must continue debate among ourselves any differences that may exist, recognising the reality that there can be no matter that becomes so conetntious that it results in the division of the alliance or the entrenchment of antagonistic relations among ourselves.
The unity of the alliance is a fundamental condition for the victory of the National Democratic Revolution in our country, for the achievement of Africa’s renaissance, for the renewal of our globe. We owe it to the masses of our people, the peoples of Africa and the world to maintain and further enhance that unity so that we advance at a faster pace towards the goal of a better life for all.
For us, as COSATU, the Communist Party is synonymous with the best, bravest and most committed leaders of the working class. For us, mention of the Communist Party brings the memory of J.B. Marks of the mineworkers, Moses Mabhida, Moses Kotane, Govan Mbeki, Yusuf Dadoo, Joe Slovo, Chris Hani - leaders whose work for the Party was intertwined with their commitment to organised labour as well as the broader liberation movement under the leadership of the ANC. This Congress must live up to the names of our greatest heroes, which is indeed a challenge for all of us….
I speak here as the representative of organised labour – and workers will lose most if the Communist Party is indecisive, unclear or disorganised. So you will understand if we are very honest in this input….
That means we must answer two questions: First, what does it mean to be a Communist? And second, how does the current situation in South Africa and internationally shape the struggle for the National Democratic Revolution and socialism? The answers to these questions will also tell COSATU what we can and should expect from the SACP in the coming years. In our understanding, a Communist is defined by three key elements: a working-class perspective on society, a Marxist understanding of the world, and participation in struggle to transform society in the interests of the majority. A working class perspective means fighting to end poverty and give the majority of our people greater say over their destinies, in economic, political and social terms. But that alone doesn't make you a Communist. You also have to understand the ideology and methodology of Marxism, which sees the causes of poverty and oppression in the nature of the capitalist system and the system of economic ownership and control.
That means the only real solution is radically to change class power by developing broader, collective ownership. Even within a capitalist system, we can work to increase the political and social power and the hegemony of the working class and its allies. In recent years, we have heard the argument that workers cannot lead the transformation of society, because they are not the poorest of the poor. But for Marx, the working class played a central role in the struggle to transform society, not because it was the most oppressed, but because it had the greatest potential for uniting to bring about change. That is still true in South Africa today.
… A critical challenge is how to link class power to the power of the government. If there is one thing we have learned in the past seven years, it is that the democratic movement cannot rely exclusively on its positions in government to bring about social and economic change. Rather, we also need to mobilise our power outside of the state in order to ensure transformation. That, in turn, means revisiting our understanding of the role of the organised working class, defining its allies, and looking at appropriate strategies and tactics. In this context, we as COSATU see a three-fold role for the Communist Party. Its functions are:
First, to build working class power, which means building the union movement, the SACP, the Alliance and a broader popular movement for transformation with a strategic, socialist vision for the country. On that basis we must participate in the international socialist movement
Second, to participate in policy development and implementation with the government
Third, to undertake ideological work on a large scale, so as to ensure the coherence of the democratic movement around a progressive perspective and analysis.
… To build working class power, the SACP must define campaigns that build the power of the working class and its allies, while gradually reducing big capital's scope for action. Too often, we have left the space to other organisations and movements to fight for the interest of the poor, including around electricity cut offs, evictions and landlessness.
We need to establish the hegemony of our perspective, with a clear vision, strategy and tactics, which can support and learn from mass-based campaigns. This is a critical role for the Party. Indeed, it could be argued that it is the Party's defining role, the only function that no other organisation can play. To assist in this central effort, COSATU has endorsed the formation of the Chris Hani Institute. But we have to admit that we have not made the progress we hoped in this regard. We need to develop a clear plan of action, which takes into account both our needs and our very real resource constraints.
It is SANCO’s view that we have not allowed the Alliance to adapt to the changing nature of the political and social environment. We have not analysed our relative strengths and weaknesses in the different arenas of society, the pressures these arenas come to bear upon us and our responsibility within those areas as well as within the alliance. …
The relative weaknesses and strengths of SANCO are a clear and direct reflection of the state of the grassroots Congress movement. … It is imperative that our alliance is a living alliance particularly at a local level….
No aspect of NEPAD can be regarded as sacroscant. The basic municipal services of our country shall always be in the hands of the people. We support the COSATU campaign not to privatise these resources of the people. … Nonetheless, we do maintain that the state must privatise those industries that state involvement in has hampered competition resulting in unfavourable pricing for the poor, like the entertainment and tourism industry. We do not disagree with privatisation in principle, rather there should be a case by case analysis.
By Rob Davies, member of the SACP Political Bureau and ANC MP
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) has come and gone. It was clearly a major event: the largest UN conference ever. Our government has received much well deserved praise for its efficient hosting as well as for its pivotal role as chair in ensuring that the Summit culminated in an agreement involving a number of important targets and commitments. Beyond this, the WSSD provided a valuable opportunity to take stock of a wide variety of analyses of the state of the world created by capitalist globalisation, as well as assess the challenges in creating a globalisation of solidarity in the campaign to transform that system.
Spending time at the Global Peoples’ Forum in Nasrec has left two overriding impressions. First, a growing number of people from all over the world have clearly come to see the system of capitalist globalisation as a major impediment to sustainable development for the benefit of workers and the poor. Second, while the globalisation of solidarity has definitely taken important steps forward in recent years, there is still a long way to go in creating a coherent global social movement capable of underpinning an agenda of fundamental change.
Many presentations made at the Global Peoples’ Forum, and indeed at the official World Summit on Sustainable Development at Sandton, converged around one key theme: the "baseline scenario" that will arise from the reproduction of existing trends is indeed a bleak one for humanity in general and for workers and the poor in particular. The world created by capitalist globalisation is one of fabulous wealth for the few and continuing poverty for the many. As one presenter indicated, while the richest 20% of the world’s population enjoy 83% of world income, the poorest 20% have to survive on a mere 6% with the gap between the richest and poorest 20% having widened from 30:1 in the 1970s to 59:1 today. The system created by capitalist globalisation is, moreover, one whose expanded reproduction on its current trajectory can clearly only take place on the basis of massive environmental destruction and loss of biodiversity amounting to the planet’s sixth great extinction – on whose cusp we are currently standing at the moment. Even the World Bank felt obliged to warn, in a report launched on the eve of the summit, that attempts to meet UN Millenium Development goals of halving poverty by 2015 on the basis of trickle down growth, without confronting distributional and consumption issues, could only result in "dysfunctional cities, dwindling water supplies, more inequality and conflict and even less crop land to sustain us than we have now". The world we live in, in short, is one characterized by President Thabo Mbeki in his opening address as "global apartheid".
Several presentations at Nasrec challenged us to think beyond existing paradigms and critiques. For example, the commission on trade issues – while acknowledging the legitimacy of demands by developing countries for "fair trade" – also posed the challenge to think critically about the conventional wisdom that trade equals growth equals development. It was pointed out that there had been a 30% increase in world trade since the Uruguay Round – a rate of expansion that is probably not sustainable. Besides, much of this trade involves production for the already wealthy in rich countries, and is therefore underpinning unsustainable consumption patters as well as leading developing countries to shift their production patterns away from the production to meet basic needs of the poor.
While the "baseline scenario" for the world may look bleak, the main hope lies in increasing signs that the long winter of neo-liberal triumphalism is ending. There are few who can now argue that mere adaptation to the system of capitalist globalisation can deliver sustainable development for all. However, while the current global balance of forces may be one in which even the dominant forces of trans-national capital and the governments of imperialist countries are obliged to acknowledge, in various ways, a reality of continued poverty, inequality and marginalisation for the many as well as serious issues of sustainability, it is also one in which vested interests among the globally dominant forces continue to resist any real change at their expense. This was evident, for example, in attempts by some delegations from "the north" to backslide even from the partial and ambiguous commitments made at Doha on such issues as subsidies on agricultural exports and enhancing access to their markets for products from developing countries, as well as in their attitude to targets for water and sanitation and on clean energy. The absence of the US President and the attitude of the US delegation at the summit also underscored the unwillingness of the "global superpower" to submit to any multi-lateral process of decision-making that it does not overtly lead and control. It was precisely this which led many to point out that the issues of "democracy and good governance", raised so often in relation to developing countries as a means of exerting political and policy conditionality and as a way of the rich and the powerful evading their responsibilities to the poor, is a highly pertinent issue in relation to the conduct of multi-lateral institutions and the behaviour at global level of rich and powerful countries.
The Nasrec process brought together the extremely broad range of "civil society" groups and organizations we are now accustomed to see on the fringes of major inter-governmental conferences. Everyone from "Green Zionists" and Falun Gong, on the one hand, to significant social movements and thinkers like Eric Mann and Vandana Shiva, on the other, contributed to the vast array of official and side events. A particular feature was extensive participation both from platforms and from the floor by South Africans. Both the ANC and the SACP organized events that were well attended. While various statements celebrated the diversity of the participants, it was also evident that these kind of gatherings pay a price in terms of coherence. This was evident both in the disparate nature of contributions from the floor, and in the lack of clear conclusions from the various sessions. The ultra-left chose not to participate organizing their own event and march. Although the latter attracted a fair number of people and media attention, a great deal of strategic and tactical confusion was evident – beginning with an apparent inability to distinguish between a G8 and a UN meeting, and hence not to recognize the importance, at least as a tactical goal, of enhancing the influence of the UN vis a vis other multi-lateral bodies. The usual inability to forge broad alliances and coalitions, and to exert any real influence on the inter-governmental process (the latter often informed by a perspective of anti-politics politics) was also evident.
The agreement reached at the end of the inter-governmental conference was clearly important. After much hard bargaining significant agreements were reached on timetables to advance key sustainable development targets. In this respect, the WSSD was able to push the envelope in some important respects. At the same time, it also clearly fell short of what is required to ensure a future of sustainable development for the mass of humanity, and in this respect remained reflective of the current global balance of forces still skewed in favour of the dominant imperialist forces. Perhaps in the end, the main achievement of the WSSD was that it offered – both in the inter-governmental and "civil society" processes – useful opportunities to raise key issues and contribute to a process of incrementally shifting the balance of forces a little more in favour of the workers and the poor. The WSSD thoroughly analysed the world created by the system of capitalist globalisation – and, in my opinion, found it severely wanting. The point now is to change that world.
By Ncumisa Kondlo, member of the SACP Political Bureau
During the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in August, the South African Communist Party hosted a reception today for the World Parliamentary Forum.
The World Parliamentary Forum was created in Porto Allegre, in parallel to the World Social Form. At the reception, the World Parliamentary Forum presented a Declaration called "Rio+10: Save the Earth Summit: A sustainable world is possible, necessary and urgent"
This Declaration is signed by numerous progressive parliamentarians around the world, from Peru to the Phillipines, from Brazil to Malaysia, from Canada to European Union member states. This appeal addresses 10 concrete demands to the Rio+10 conference.
The role of the World Parliamentary Forum is to support the action of trade union, and social, democratic and environmental associations, which are engaged in the creation of alternatives to neo-liberalism. The World Parliamentary Forum intends to network and act together with such organisations so that the struggles of unions, etc. could have a legislative translation.
The Declaration was introduced by members of the European Parliament - Harem Desir (Socialist Party of Spain), Monica Frassoni (Greens) and Francis Wurtz (Nordic Green Left).
The 844 voting delegates at the 11th Congress of the South African Communist Party (SACP) elected the following as members of the SACP Central Committee.
Mtshali, Eric Stalin
Declaration of the World Parliamentary Forum on the WSSD
The aim of sustainable development is not economic growth as such although it can contribute to achieve such a goal. The aim is human progress, human dignity, the improvement of the quality of life for all, social inclusion and the protection of the environment. Therefore, we need a clear vision and clear objectives, targets and timetables. In order to reach this aim it is necessary to
Stop the causes of impoverishment
The improvement of the conditions of life for all people in the world must be the overall aim of political and economic activities. As a full part of that aim, the right to education must be enhanced. In our parliaments, we oppose any initiative to privatise the commons. Free access to public goods must be guaranteed. Public services are not for sale and should be protected and promoted alongside social rights. Food security, which is incompatible with the privatisation of property rights for seeds, is a human right. A Tobin type tax on international transactions and other international taxes (the carbon tax on gas emissions, etc) must be implemented to raise funds to eradicate the most extreme forms of poverty and to allow access to public goods for all in a sustainable way in developing countries. There will be no sustainable globalisation without redistribution of wealth on a world scale.
Stop the causes of environmental devastation - Ratify and implement all international environmental and development agreements and commitments concluded since Rio
The growth logic, starting with irresponsible (ab)use of land and energy which has led to ever more man-made disasters must end. Uncontrolled logging, pesticide use and construction of houses and roads have put the survival of the planet at risk. The polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle must be the basis of all regulations. It is high time that the treaties on climate change (Kyoto), biological diversity, biosafety and fisheries become effective. Therefore, we will contribute to put pressure on those governments which are reluctant to sign or withdraw their signature, such as the US. The Johannesburg summit must adopt the UN target of 0.7 % GDP for Official Development assistance (ODA) including a timetable for implementation.
End debt, undermine financial speculation
The yearly debt service of developing countries amounts to 200 billion US$. This is almost four times the official development aid. Thus, in reality, the South is financing the North. The present system of involving whole countries into a debt trap, with its totally perverse effects, has to be stopped, starting with debt cancellation for poor countries. Additionally, instruments like the Tobin tax and the suppression of tax heavens will also help to stop speculative capital flows.
Make companies accountable
We support the call for a legally binding international framework on corporate accountability and liability requiring private investors to comply with core labour and environmental standards defined in national legislation and international law and including independent verification mechanisms. A first step towards this should be mandatory reporting on social and environmental performance and the strengthening of existing guidelines for multi-national enterprises. Furthermore, all Multilateral Environmental Agreements should include provisions relating to natural resource use and investment controls. Voluntary codes are not enough to guarantee rights of citizens and communities and duties of corporations. Johannesburg should be the place to launch the negotiations of such an international framework agreement.
Shrink the WTO
Instead of giving new competencies to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), its functioning needs an in-depth review and reform. The WTO should not be given the authority over new areas such as investment, government procurement, competition and public services, particularly health and education. The far too powerful Dispute Settlement Mechanism of the WTO should be subordinated to the decisions of other multilateral organisations in charge of social, environmental and human rights. There is a need for a new international framework and for the recognition of a new hierarchy of international rules under the control of the United Nations organisation, so that the WTO cannot override regulations of MEAs. Trade should serve social aims and respect environmental and health priorities of the international Community, and not the other way around. In no case living material should become a commodity.
Engender gender equality and minority rights
Equality among men and women is still far from being recognised. There is also a need for improvement of ethnic minority rights, this must be a full part of development policies. Gender impact assessments have to become mandatory in all international agreements in order to make sure that development contributes to close the gender gap.
End war and militarisation
The terrorist threat is a real one and must be fought. But the answer is not more militarisation and reduction of democratic liberties in the name of antiterrorism. There can only be sustainable development in regions torn by violent conflicts, if the conditions are put into place for sustainable peace, if inequalities are combated and democratic rights are strengthened. The logic of a "military globalisation" is not the adequate response to these essential aims. The international community has to give preference to the political resolution of conflicts, under the lead of the United Nations and respecting the resolutions of the Security Council. The right of interference to defend oppressed people should be limited and regulated by the International Criminal Court. The trade of weapons and military assistance should be limited as well.
Guarantee the right to culture and language
There is no access to self-development without the respect for all peoples to their own heritage and human respectability. As well as biodiversity, cultural and linguistic diversity must be preserved at planetary level. Over the past three centuries, languages have died out and disappeared at a dramatic and steadily increasing pace, especially in the Americas and Australia. At least 3,000 tongues, that means about half of the languages spoken in the world, are seriously endangered or dying in many parts of the world.
Guarantee of free access to water
Access to fresh water is one of most basic human needs. However, this access is getting more and more precarious or expensive, not only in the South, where climatic conditions may be adverse, but also in the North, where the pollution of subterranean water reserves and rivers is increasing. Under these conditions, privatisation of water or water distribution has particularly damaging consequences for the peoples. Fresh water is a basic need and not a commercial value. Therefore it cannot be sold for profit. We oppose privatisation of water and water services.
Sustainable development cannot be privatised
The Public Private Partnerships or so called "Type II proposals" are not a solution to the problems of sustainable development. The Rio + 10 Summit should end with the firm commitment to political agreements with timetables and action plans amongst governments. This is the only way to guarantee our future. We need sustainable communities, not sustainable profits for corporations.
By Thobile Maso
Class composition of the day
Political nature of the day
Source of this day
Reduced to position of simple agents
Oh! What a day- Keep on Marching
Special arm of the service
It is only an incipient of power
Why fogging the minds of workers
Why instilling petty bourgeoisie illusions
Why prolonging its existence
Why the delay of its end
It is the Day dawn– Keep on Marching
Free the people from bourgeoisie influence
It can’t be transformation without transfer of power
It can’t be land lord to Rand lord
It can’t be Global without accountability
Yes! The day must come- keep on marching
Come all agitators
Come all volunteers
Who! is the cog of bureaucratic machine
Who! is the conveying belt of flotsam and jetsam
Unless you want to be, what they want you to be
But! You can’t stop the day- keep on marching
MARCH – MARCH – MARCH
This article is an extract from a report by Comrade John Bizzel to the Canadian Communist Party. John and Maggie Bizzel represented the Canadian Party at the SACP 11th Congress.
The Congress hosted nearly 1000 elected delegates, some 30 overseas fraternal party delegates, many guests from South African fraternal organisations who came and went and many staff, security people, cooks, drivers and interpreters. It was their largest ever such effort and it taxed their resources and organisational capacity to the limit. The Congress was held in the cavernous local civic centre in Rustenburg, which is some 21/2 hours west of Johannesburg. Rustenburg, producing some 80% of the world’s platinum, is expectedly based on mining. The scenery is ruggedly spectacular.
The Congress was very, very young which put its own stamp on the political character and the esprit de corps of the event. Congress kits included very red tee shirts with the congress slogans and equally red peaked caps with large hammer and sickle emblems all of which made for a very colourful Congress floor. And then there was the singing and dancing (toyi-toyi). This has to be experienced to be believed. Every political event and campaign generates its own songs and these are well known to all and sung in perfect harmony without accompaniment at the opening and closing of every session and to greet and thank any major speaker. Many of the fraternals were in SA for the first time and the looks of amazement on their faces was a picture.
In the days prior to the event the print and electronic media was rife with speculation (what’s new) about the imminent collapse of the alliance, of a split in the party, of an ANC boycott of the Congress. Much revolved around the matter of Jeremy Cronin and his interview with Helena Sheehan and the response, not of the ANC but of key figures within the ANC. All of it was rather wishful thinking – which is not to say that there are not problems and lines of stress in the alliance.
The two Congress slogans are of particular significance.
With and For the Workers and the Poor. With a rural population of near 50% living largely in historically created miserable conditions and with (depending on who you take as a source) unemployment at between 25% and 40%, the poor (not the lumpen) are a huge factor in society and the Party has made this constituency its own. A very, very wise move but hugely difficult to get a handle on especially the rural poor where the Party will butt heads with the traditional leaders which means with feudal power and the IFP.
Build People’s Power – Build Socialism Now. This derives from the concept that socialism will not of necessity come in an apocalyptical fashion but will probably put down roots within capitalism through the public sector, people’s democratic organisations and the co-op movement, which is burgeoning. Hence work in these and other such sectors must be viewed not only as a means for survival under capitalism or of challenge to capital but also as the beginnings of socialist transformation.
The agenda structure and the structure of debate was unusual for Maggie and I. Throughout the Congress, discussion, rather than in plenary session, took place mainly in smaller commissions of a few hundred each with each commission dealing with the same questions. The opening day, after the adoption of the rules and agenda received messages of support from the ANC-led Alliance.
Each of these represents a particular constituency whose immediate approaches are not always co-terminus one with the other. SANCO and COSATU, particularly, came at things from their particular territories. So they actually struck a chord with the very youthful delegates who whooped and sang with joy which elicited even more fiery phrases.
The ANC National Chairperson, Mosiua Lekota, took his turn at the podium. The Congress delegates rose as one from the floor with a song whose theme was "Down with capitalism – defeat capitalism now" and it went on for a full five minutes. He joined in the singing and eventually got the ear of the Congress. His greetings were very warm and embracing. Toward the end he said that we should not be surprised at the existence of differences of opinion – this has always been a fact of life among the different parts of the alliance – what is required is more effort at managing differences. After all the points on which there is agreement far exceed those where there is not accord. His remarks were well received.
Maggie has the view that seldom do Communists do something without purpose and the purpose she sees in this form of agenda was to place the Alliance as the prime item and the Party as of lesser importance at this conjuncture.
The session opened with tributes to the fallen prominent members such as Fred Carneson, Sonia Bunting, Govan Mbeki and Ray Alexander. These were dealt with individually by prominent members of the CC such as Ronnie Kasrils, who is a brilliant speaker (it’s the poet in him), Jeremy Cronin and Essop Pahad. This was followed by the Political Report by General Secretary Blade Nzimande. There was a printed document and he spoke very trenchantly to this rather than just read it. I found the report to be a tour de force.
Coffee breaks were abandoned as the agenda came under increasing pressure. Following lunch, Jeremy Cronin delivered the State of the Organisation report which described very successful independent mass campaigns on reformation of the financial sector, HIV/AIDS, Red October, Party Building, Gender Campaigns, Building Organs of People’s Power, Defence of the Public Sector, Rural Transformation. Also revealed were serious weaknesses in capacity – brain drain to governments at all levels, lack of party education, slow cadre development - and to Maggie and I -the glaring absence of a party press. On the international front, the Party has done yeoman service in developing solidarity organisation and action with Cuba and Palestine in first place, but also against feudal oppression in Swaziland.
Membership is in excess of 20,000 and our sense is that the main brake on growth is qualified local leadership with experience and capacity and of course funds.
The evening session was given to a solidarity night with the people of Palestine with addresses by the Communist Parties of Israel, Palestine, CPUSA and AKEL, which is playing a key role in Middle East solidarity actions.
The morning session was closed for deliberation on the financial report. Fraternal guests were dispatched by bus to the magnificent Pilanesberg game reserve. The start was delayed so the animals had mostly moved into the deep shade by the time we arrived. None the less we saw several elephant, rhinos, buffalo, assorted antelope and raptors. The bus driver took us down a narrow dirt road toward a lake to see hippo and crocs. After a few kilometres he decided that the road was pretty bad so he stopped the bus and disappeared on foot (an absolute no-no with abundant big cats) to reconnoitre the road. He was away for what seemed an awful long time and everyone was joking about which of us was competent to drive the bus. He eventually returned to say that the road deteriorated further on and we should turn around. Easier said than done. It is a major thing to turn a huge bus on a single lane dirt road in the African bush. Dennis Goldberg, 75 odd years old (of Rivonia trial fame and well known to Anti-Apartheid activists in Canada), got down and guided the driver, moved rocks etc. as the bus did, not a 3-point turn but a 50 point turn. They had barely started when eagle eye Maggie spotted three elephant in the bush warily watching the whole operation. They can be incredibly dangerous if they feel threatened. Their ears were up and their trunks swishing back and forth. As we made the last reverse, they moved out into the open. Dennis scrambled back on board and we spun wheels getting out in haste.
The afternoon saw greetings from fraternals – by zone, so we did not get to speak but the greetings were well appreciated and will be published.
The evening event was a real eye-opener. At Sun City, a rough equivalent of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas was the venue for the Congress Banquet. This was a giant fund raising event to try to cover the costs of the congress (about R3 million). 100 guests were there and the Party had really shaken down big business. De Beers and Anglo American had sponsored two tables each, Telkom, Portnet and Eskom (parastatals in the telephone, harbours and electricity sectors) did one table each then there were cell phone companies and Johnnic (Cyril Ramaphosa) and a host of big black owned corporations who took tables. That the tables were filled with senior corporate people, was interesting. I suppose that it was ‘insurance money’ in the end, but also a tacit acknowledgement of the major role the Party plays in government as far as competence, delivery, sagacity and steadiness is concerned. Ronnie Kasrils was MC and did an incredible job, ribbing the capitalists and getting a really good laugh from them and mixing this with a serious talk on the role that capital has to play in the national democratic revolution. Many cabinet ministers were there, provincial cabinet members and mayors. A major feature was first lady Zanele Mbeki. One major item on the auction was an autographed, numbered and leather bound copy of President Mbeki’s book, personally donated which puts paid to the notion of an imminent split. It fetched over R100,000.
This was a political outing to Soweto for fraternal delegates. We opted out and attended the morning and afternoon commissions instead.
The evening was to be a cultural evening in solidarity with Cuba (day after July 26) The main guests were several score Cuban doctors working in the area. There are several hundred doctors from Cuba and the SA medical profession is gradually and grudgingly acknowledging their competence and expertise. Ronnie Kasrils has eleven Cuban hydraulic experts working in his department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Sadly, the commissions only wound up at 10.00pm and the concert got going at 11.00pm. We stayed for the Moses Kotane and Chris Hani Awards to outstanding Communists and retired to bed. Apparently the delegates danced until 4.00 am and this meant that the last day of the Congress started late.
It consisted of reports from the commissions the announcement of the newly elected CC and the GSs closing remarks followed by a mad scramble for the busses to start the long journey home. Somehow they forgot the Internationale and Nkosi Sikelela iAfrica.
The released credentials report did not include socio-economic/occupational/demographic data of delegates although we understand that it is captured.
The Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal together constitute 40% of the membership. These two are the poorest provinces, the most rural, the most wracked by unemployment and the most afflicted by HIV/AIDS. The Western Cape and Gauteng (Johannesburg and the surrounding towns) constitutes 20% of the membership and are the most industrialised and wealthiest provinces. It seems that the Party is numerically more represented in the rural based economy than in the industrialised sector although this observation may be faulted.
The theory and practice of the united front is challenging to say the least. There are no "How To" guide books and forms of the united front are always grown out of the exigencies of the past. This applies very much to the situation in the RSA. The ANC developed over 90 years from a very conservative, centralised and undemocratic (internally) background, through illegality as a broad based liberation movement with further centralism imposed by illegality to where it is today – a political party with strong overtones of a broad movement. The Party has supported the ANC as the natural leader of national democratic revolution for over 70 of those years.
The broad church character of the ANC has remained and both because of the new opportunities for participation in the economy, and the pressures of neo-liberalism, the capitalist and black nationalist end of the spectrum has been strengthened. It is from this section that the sharp rhetoric comes directed to force the hand of the SACP to withdraw from the ANC. This pressure is complemented by a leftist go-it-alone tendency at the other end of the spectrum within the Party. And from outside, the chorus is joined by those hostile to the alliance who want it to break up, for their own reasons.
Level heads in both organisations know well that the alliance is crucial for the completion of the national democratic revolution and they also are well aware of the organisational and theoretical rubs that naturally exist between and within the components. We are quite sure that these will be worked at over time in an orderly manner and resolution will be found. If it means that a new and more appropriate form of united action has to be found, it will be by sober conscious decision not by incendiary action.
This is of critical importance for the SACP. Evidence being first of all, the massive tasks for the Party and secondly the matter of 115 defunct branches and 16 defunct district committees. The first describes the need for a large increase in membership and the second a substantial development of cadre and education to revive the branches and districts and to extend the influence of the Party. This in turn means developing the financial base to make this possible. This question of the development of capacity is certainly not confined to the Party but is probably the single greatest drag on the delivery of service in every sphere of government. And this poses an additional problem for the Party, for as fast as it increases its capacity, so is it deployed into government and other areas in desperate need. [As an aside, I have wondered whether the Parties in other countries could not render assistance here while garnering huge experience for themselves. Could Parties abroad, second first rate instructors to the SACP to go into regions and help run Party cadre schools?]
The SACP supports the initiatives of the Athens meeting and will continue to be active.
We and those fraternal delegates we spoke to are quite astonished that the SACP does not have a newspaper or journal other than the quarterly, The African Communist and Umsebenzi. We asked a few people about this but received no real answer.
Below here are extracts from messages of support received by the 11th Congress of the SACP. The next issue of Umsebenzi will include the full complement of all messages of support received.
Communist Party of the Russian Federation
On behalf of hundreds of thousands of members of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation I convey to all delegates of the SACP Congress and in fact to all SACP members our message of support.
Though huge distances separate us there is a very strong feeling in Russia that we are defending the same ideals, fighting the same enemies, protecting the rights of the same social classes.
Under the pretext of introduction of "free market" economy the masses of Russian workers and peasants were thrown into misery. The unemployment, violent crimes, deadly deceases unknown in the Soviet Union have become widespread.
But the real achievements of Socialism - free education and medical care, jobs for all, cheep housing, easy access to recreation facilities remain strong in people's minds making them to reassess our past and think about the future.
Even according to government sources over a third of Russian voters might vote for Communists. In fact our support is far broader. Despite vicious anti-Communist propaganda by the Western-controlled and oligarchs-owned mass media the CPRF remains by far the biggest political party in Russia.
We are strongly inspired by the successes of the ANC-SACP-SOCATU alliance of democratic forces. We are proud that South African Communists made such a great contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle and are contributing so strongly to transformation of South Africa.
Your experience of fighting apartheid and constructing new society is a valuable asset of the international communist movement. The issues of Socialism, of Building People's Economy on the agenda of the Congress are very relevant for us and for the Left forces all over the world. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation is keen to develop cooperation with the SACP in the framework of Communist and anti-globalist movement.
We wish delegates in the Congress success in their deliberations and are confident that the decisions of the Congress will be a valuable step in party's effort to improve lives of millions of impoverished and underprivileged South Africans
Please rest assured, dear Comrades, of our unfailing support and solidarity with South African Communists.
Chairman of the Central Committee - Communist Party of the Russian Federation
Communist Party of Nepal
I thank you, on behalf of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), for the invitation to the 11th Congress of the South African Communist Party to be held on 24th-28th July 2002.
Though we had made internal arrangements to be present at this special function of your party some time back, due to the domestic problems associated with the insurgency, peace-security and many other pressing domestic issues eminent in the socio-political situation of our country and especially due to the recent declaration of the mid-term polls by the government, it being necessary for the party leadership to be present in the country has compelled us to remain in our home land.
We wish a grand success of your Congress and are confident that it will accomplish in finding solutions to the problems and challenges that your party is facing inside and outside the government. We do agree that the democratic transition is taking place in a world dominated by imperialism and its attendant ideology, which presents immense challenges to the advancing, consolidating and deepening the National Democratic Revolution of South Africa. In this present circumstance, we once more wish for the success of the Congress.
We are hopeful that the fraternal relations established between our two parties will further enhance in the days to come.
With Comradely regards.
Madhav Kumar Nepal
General Secretary – Communist Party of Nepal (UML)
Communist Party of Peru
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Peru (Red Homeland) sends warm and fraternal greetings to the 11th Congress and through it, to all communists and the people of your country, with best wishes for your work.
Wishing that your congress will be an important contribution to the South African Communist Party's consolidation and to the development of a militant strugle for National Democratic Revolution, in defense of the interests of working people, democracy and just solutions to the economic and social problems of South Africa, we express our interest in developing relations of friendship and solidarity between our two parties.
Central Committee of the Communist Party of Peru (Red Homeland)
Communist Party of Austria
We're congratulating you on behalf of the Austrian Communist Party on the 11th Congress of the South African Communist Party which is taking place under most difficult conditions both on national and international levels.
We understand that the defining role of the SACP is to mobilise, educate, inspire and lead the South African working class and millions of your people behind a vision and a struggle for a socialist South Africa at the same time trying to rebuild the confidence of the working class in the desirability and feasibility of socialism. Deepening the national democratic revolution, based on the Freedom Charter, and ensuring its progressively anti-capitalist character, still remains the most direct route to socialism for you. It also calls on you to ensure that you consistently approach the national and gender questions in a liberating manner. At the same time we understand that the NDR is a fiercely contested terrain whose progressive orientation and outcomes are not given, but whose success is largely premised on building the capacity of the working people to stamp their firm authority to lead this revolution to its logical conclusion.
The legacy of colonialism and apartheid capitalism has created fertile ground for socialist consciousness, ideas and propaganda. The fact that capitalism is currently deepening, rather than overcoming, the many national, class, race and gender aspects of the apartheid legacy, particularly for the mass of the working and people of your country is an additional reason why there is a deep-seated and relatively spontaneous sympathy for socialism. On the other hand the scale of unemployment, retrenchments, the increasing feminisation of poverty and casualisation, despite major labour reform gains, is impoverishing and informalising the working class, particularly its African majority, which makes your struggle even more difficult.
The SACP has been successful in its struggle to put forward progressive and socialist ideas over the past years. Thousands of communists serve in many leading positions in government, in legislatures, in local councils, and in parastatals. At the same time this situation poses a number of new problems and questions. Is it feasible or desirable for the SACP to seek, on one way or the other, a distinct SACP role in governance structures a.s.o.? How can the SACP strengthen the accountibility of communists deployed in governance without sliding into either entryism on the one hand, or irrelevancy on the other?
We are convinced that the 11th Congress will tackle those problems and many others that are to arise in the debate in a fruitful and democratic way for the benefit of the South African people
Forward to the 11th Congress of the SACP!
With revolutionary greetings
Communist Party of Austria
Printed with permission from the Morning Star (Communist Newspaper in Britain)
An old 1970s TV film shows troop carriers rolling down a dusty track. A procession of school children comes into view. It is met by a line of armed men. Then the gunfire starts.
This exhibit in Soweto’s Hector Pieterson Museum is a sharp reminder of the viciousness of South Africa’s Apartheid regime: callous, arrogant, convinced of its own invincibility – and still existing as a destructive presence across the whole of southern Africa until very recently.
The shooting of Hector Pieterson and his fellow school student protesters took place in 1976. Less than ten years ago the Apartheid regime maintained a lethal grip on state power. Democratic elections were not held till 1994. The current government, an alliance of the African National Congress, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and the South African Communist Party, is only eight years old.
South African Communists held their eleventh congress, the biggest ever, at the end of July. In five days of intense discussion the thousand delegates debated how South Africa could advance further down the road towards social justice and socialism.
In assessing this debate it is the newness of South Africa’s democracy that must be the starting point.
In 1994 all departments of state, the army and police were still staffed by those who had served under the Apartheid regime. Armed groups of white supremacists still had some base within the three million white population. The formerly ruling Nationalist Party was in informal alliance with the Zulu-based Freedom Inkatha Party. Determined efforts were being made to ignite ethnic conflict within the majority black population.
The fragile existence of a progressive multi-ethnic democracy depended entirely on maintaining and deepening the alliance which had achieved South Africa’s political liberation – the mass movement represented by the ANC, organised labour represented by COSATU and not least the SACP.
Together the new government had to dismantle the Apartheid state, create new democratic institutions and provide governmental programmes that could for the first time start to address the needs of a grossly impoverished and exploited black population. And they had to do this in the most unpromising of domestic and international situations.
The Soviet Union, which had been so important for the liberation struggle, was no more. United States imperialism was aggressively exploiting every opportunity to enhance its economic hegemony under the cloak of development, aid and partnership with private capital. No one spoke about socialism. In South Africa itself virtually all productive assets were in the hands of the old white ruling class or their allies in banks and transnational companies controlled from New York or the City of London.
What has happened ? Multi-ethnic democracy has survived. White supremacism no longer has a mass base. The Nationalist project of alliance with Inkatha has come to nothing. Government apparatuses have been de-racialised. There is no longer a state machine that could act to impose the power of a white ruling class as such.
The ANC alliance, on the other hand, has strengthened its mass base and was returned to government in the recent elections with a considerably increased majority - massive achievements by any measure and to the credit of all sections of the ANC alliance.
The programmatic document debated at the SACP congress analyses with great clarity the challenges now facing any attempt to further develop democracy and socialism in a world where the key productive forces are owned by a minute number of TNCs and military power largely monopolised by one imperialist state.
One key perception dominates the document. It is that the dynamic of democratic advance cannot be separated from socialism and social justice. Failure to advance on one front immediately prejudices the other. Without social justice democracy will be seen to be empty by those needed to defend it.
A visit by international delegates to Soweto vividly illustrated this reality. Four million people now live there. Unemployment is endemic. There is no general social security system. A single wage earner often has to support a vast extended family. Although there has been some progress in the provision of housing with electricity and sanitation, large sections remain without it. Aids is developing into a pandemic.
Yet the country also has great wealth. It is its distribution that is the problem. South Africa has the fifth most unequal society in the world.
So what does democracy mean for those in the black townships and trade unions whose courage and organisation actually won liberation ? If the new democracy has a base, it is precisely in such grass roots structures. But, argues the SACP, it can only be sustained and deepened if it is concretely linked to moves to end economic exploitation.
This was why the party’s 10th congress in 1998 adopted the slogan Build Socialism Now ! Continuing the National Democratic Revolution could not be separated by artificially imposed stages from the advance to socialism.
At this congress one of the most telling features was the amount and character of the press coverage. Some sections of the media were openly hostile. Other sections sought to offer statesmanlike advice. All, however, united in attempting to incite an end to the alliance between the SACP and the ANC and the withdrawal of Communists from the government.
The explanation can easily be found in the political analysis placed before Congress. This details the failure of large scale South African and external capital to reconstruct a reliable internal power base for itself.
Big business can seek to lock the SA government into a global neo-liberal consensus. It can use control of finance and technology to bully policy-makers. But currently it cannot effectively exercise state power. The situation remains fluid – and the key progressive potential within this flux is the degree to which the new mass democratic institutions develop a socialist orientation.
This is what big business wants to halt. The SACP works very closely with the ANC. Much joint thinking takes place. The campaigns against patriarchalism, for the economic and social liberation of women, for the growth of cooperatives and the supply of bank credit for black economic initiatives all stem from such joint working.
For big business itself the situation is not as propitious as it was in the mid-1990s. Neo-liberalism no longer looks invincible. Comparable economies which took the free market road have collapsed into crisis – and neo-liberalism has no answer apart from intensified exploitation. In Latin America and elsewhere progressive alternatives are being canvassed. At the same time new trading opportunities are beginning to emerge with countries outside the imperialist circle.
The 11th Congress identified the key battleground for the coming period as the country’s public sector. South Africa’s massive state sector places in the hands of the ANC government productive resources of very considerable magnitude and sophistication. Big business is desperate to see this sector privatised. Quite apart from the money to be made, privatisation would leave the government strategically enfeebled and dependent.
Over the past few years the banks have used the country’s economic difficulties to impose a privatisation programme on the government – resulting in massive job losses and growing infrastructural dislocation. This the SACP seeks to halt. Delegates at congress gave a rapturous welcome to the pledge of the COSATU general secretary to press ahead with general strikes on 1 and 2 October to oppose privatisation.
The strategic centrality of this is well recognised by big business. A head of research for one US investment bank, writing in the Financial Times after the congress, noted: "This will be a critical test for the Mbeki government. If Mr Mbeki postpones the Telkom privatisation, the left will be emboldened to go for greater clout in economic policy making".
For the SACP this struggle is the immediate manifestation of the longer term battle: the building of a popular socialist consciousness through the organised working class and embodied in mass democratic organisations. As Blade Nzimande, the SACP general secretary, put it at the close of congress, "a class conscious and organised working class is the best cement to hold the ANC alliance together." And that alliance remains the key to any advance both democratic and socialist.
Speech by Vera Polycarpou, Member of the Central Committee of AKEL (Progressive Party of Working People of Cyprus) to an International Panel on Palestine at the 11th SACP CONGRESS
First of all I would like to thank the South African Communist Party for organizing this panel Discussion on the Middle East crisis in the framework of its 11th Congress and for inviting AKEL to speak on international solidarity with Palestine. This once again proves the internationalist character of the party of South African communists and the significance paid to international solidarity.
Allow me to begin my contribution by drawing a parallel: These same days, exactly twenty-eight years ago, Cyprus was starting to count its dead and Cypriots to realize the dimensions of the tragedy that had befallen on them. On July 15, 1974, a fascist coup d’ etat overturned President Makarios’ legitimate government, and five days later, on July 20, Turkey invaded Cyprus spreading death and devastation. Twenty-eight years on 37% of Cyprus territory is still under occupation, the island and its people remain artificially divided. I remember those first days very intensely. And I remember well the courage we drew from the demonstrations and solidarity activities organized in many different countries and the visits of international delegations. These rose international public awareness of the crime committed against Cyprus and contributed greatly to the safeguarding of Cyprus as an independent state member of the international community and to the support of its just cause.
If I have drawn this parallel is, on the one hand, to stress that international solidarity means a lot to the peoples in struggle and, on the other, that peoples that have received such solidarity appreciate it and are able to reciprocate.
The situation in Palestine has been presented by the PPP representative. I would just like to stress that this is yet another example of double standards prevailing in the so-called new world order. NATO bombed Baghdad, Belgrade and Kabul, but would they bomb Tel-Aviv or Ankara? No, no way.
It is clear, I believe, to all of us that in the era of the imperialist New World Order, the fate of the peoples that struggle should not be left in the hands of those who uphold this situation. First and foremost, it is the duty of the peoples of the world to mobilize themselves. It is the duty of all peace-loving and progressive powers all around the world to mobilize and through their mobilizations raise public awareness of the real situation in the occupied Palestinian land. The mass media around the world is mostly controlled by major corporations and are in the service of their and their masters’ interests. No matter the good work done by journalists, the picture generally transmitted would mostly be either superficial or distorted, trying to equate victim and perpetrator, with the exception maybe of crimes that could not be hidden as the one committed in Jenin. We know well that, unfortunately, news about Palestine is only in the headlines when there is bloodshed. In such cases the picture put through to the public is extremely negative and without any perspective.
Having to face this picture and limited information transmitted to the broad public, I consider that the progressive forces of the world have a special duty of raising public awareness of the real situation in Palestine. This is not a simple issue, but one that we have to work intensely on. Demonstrations, vigils, picketing – similar to the ones outside the South African Embassy in London - of the Israeli and US embassies -thus exposing the role of the US in the crisis-, interviews, articles in the press, visits to local clubs, to trade union centres, can contribute in the direction of putting through the true situation. We have to mount the pressure of the public opinion, we have to globalize solidarity.
Every day the situation is becoming more complicated. Today we are not talking only of reoccupation and siege of the Palestinian towns and villages. We are talking of continuous curfews; this is more like a prison large enough to enclose a whole people. This "massive imprisonment", this "massive punishment" is already causing, apart of all other consequences, malnutrition of the population, with children and women being as always the first victims. – And we women know how to express solidarity! - Hence, the progressive forces should intensify the mobilization in order to act as a protective shield for the Palestinian people. Israel must feel the cold shoulder of the world, should feel lonely.
In our solidarity work we might face questions related to the branding of the Palestinian national struggle as terrorism. We should, I believe, be very clear in defending the right of all peoples to struggle for their freedom and national independence, making a clear distinction between terrorism and mass national struggle; not only for the sake of the Palestinian people but also of the Colombian people, and all peoples struggling for freedom and democracy. At the same time, we disagree with the attacks against innocent Israelis. Such attacks, although a result of the oppression and desperation caused by the occupation and the crimes, play in the hands of the Sharon government, which uses them to justify the occupation and brutal attacks. The suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, apart from killing innocent people, help pushing the Israeli public into the deadlock of security fears, away from the peace option.
Hence, such attacks make the work of the progressive and peace forces in Israel even harder. We believe that it is the duty of the international progressive forces to express also their solidarity with and support to the struggle of the progressive and peace forces in Israel that are under attack and face a deterioration of democracy and democratic rights. We consider that the positions and work of the Communist Party of Israel, of HADASH (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), of such organizations as TAYUSH and Yesh Gvul (reservists) should be made as broadly known as possible and supported. In this way we will be contributing also to the developing of the understanding between the two peoples that are destined to live as neighbours. We have to look also beyond the time a solution will be achieved, because it will be also difficult to implement this solution.
The progressive forces are participating in ongoing campaigns, such as the stopping of arms sales to Israel, - and I have to recall how the SACP comrades contributed in stopping the sales of arms from your country to Turkey - , the boycotting of products from the settlements, and pressing the demand, despite Israeli rejection, for the dispatch of a fact-finding mission to establish the real facts. We have to mobilize the people of art and letter around the cultural distraction in such ancients cities as Nablus and Jenin, the ecologist and environmentalist around the environmental distraction like the uprooting of priceless olive trees. Our duty is in making the world know the truth and in keeping it aware of the dangers threatening not only the Palestinian people, but also the whole region. The clouds of a broader crisis throw their dark shadow on the whole troubled region of the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. We in Cyprus are well aware of this. Therefore, our duty as progressive forces lies in one more related field: that of rebuilding and consolidating a strong and militant international peace movement, which could rally together the broadest possible forces that share the concern for the peaceful future of our planet.
Although the situation is very difficult, and although many international activists have been impeded from entering Israel, we should nonetheless insist on sending delegations to Palestine: political, youth, doctors and nurses. Let us also reexamine the possibility of organizing an international conference and solidarity events with the Palestinian people in Palestine.
Normally I would not do that, but may be here it has a meaning to state it. I would, therefore, like to conclude by the following: I am a Cypriot, but I was born in Israel of a Jewish mother a holocaust survivor, and Cypriot communist father. But above all I was brought up as a communist. And we communists know hoe to struggle and stand next to every struggling people. And we are all next to the Palestinian people, and will be to the end, because I am sure, just as you are, that the Palestinian people will be freed, an Independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital will be established.
Palestine is not alone!
Palestine will win!
Long Live the heroic Palestinian people!
Long Live International Solidarity!
This 11th Congress,
The SACP Constitution has been amended so that our National Congress will in future be held every 5, instead of 4, years
The Constitution currently provides that "The Central Committee may convene other Special National Congresses which shall have the same power as the main Congress except for the provisions relating to the election of elected office bearers and members of the Central Committee"
The need to convene at least one Special National Congress during the five-year terms between National Congresses
The need to avoid altering the Constitution unduly
That the Central Committee ensures that it convenes a Special National Congress in terms of the Constitution during the third year of each five-year term between National Congresses
There is growing poverty and an increasing gap between the rich and the poor;
There is on the one hand growing unemployment, human misery relating to HIV/AIDs while on the other hand there is an increase in food prices, cost of basic services and transport;
The poor rely on provision of basic services by the state;
Women and children are the largest proportion of poor people and remain the most vulnerable in society including being victims of violence and abuse;
Bureaucratisation resulting in maladministration of state services for the poor and corrupt tendencies by public officials is a manifestation of capitalism;
Ward committees have been established to facilitate the participation of people in the identification of their needs and in the delivery of services;
The state must intervene on behalf of the poor and stimulate socio-economic development by:
Providing basic services, amongst others; regulate the private sector; promoting of community intiatives and collective forms of ownership;
Transforming the state is fundamental for service delivery to the working class and the poor;
A public sector must not only be representative of society but be biased to ensure greater equity in the delivery of services;
Public servants should have a revolutionary morality of caring for the working class and the poor and putting people first;
Service delivery that is biased to the poor and vulnerable in society will only be achieved through working class hegemony of society;
A basic income grant will contribute to addressing the immediate crisis of growing poverty and the ravaging effects of HIV/AIDs on the poor;
Addressing equality is a fundamental building block of socialism;
The restructuring of the state that results in the privatisation of basic services and shedding of jobs be halted;
The state provide basic services such as health, housing, education etc. to the working class and the poor;
The state ensures that all state owned enterprises have and obligation to deliver of basic services to the working class and the poor;
The state ensures that all state owned enterprises have and obligation to deliver of basic services to the working class and the poor;
The state expands its programme of ensuring that civil servants put people first;
The delivery of services must focus on women and children, in particular;
There be serious consideration of introducing a basic income grant;
The child support grant be extended beyond the age of six years;
There be a partnership between the state and people in the development of collective ownership and delivery of services;
The SACP structures builds capacity to ensure that all sectors of society and communities participate in ward committees to ensure that:
- service delivery is based on needs of the working class and the poor;
- there is a partnership in the delivery of services;
- there is accountability for service delivery.
This 11th Congress of the SACP
- The struggle to break out of the crisis persisting and systemic
underdevelopment, caused by centuries of colonialism and decades of
intensified imperialist subordination, is the key challenge confronting our
- This crisis manifests itself in, amongst other things, weak state formation and a lack of democracy in many African societies, the absence of infrastructure or, where it exists, infrastructure skewed towards the narrow interests of former colonial powers and the transnationals; economic disaccummulation; social instability and endemic war; a burgeoning health crisis, including the resurgence of many curable diseases, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic; a collapse of agricultural production and resulting hunger and famine; and the unsustainable destruction of our environment.
- The NEPAD document, as endorsed by the newly launched African Union, correctly evokes the concept of "under-development" as the key challenge of our own continent, and appropriately highlights key manifestations of this crisis.
Further Noting that the NEPAD process and the NEPAD document contain some actual and potential weaknesses including:
- A process that has, by general consent, been for the moment not
- The danger that the document, in the present form, is not sufficiently
buttressed against a neo-liberal hijacking especially that the sections on
political and economic governance, while seeking to address themselves to
real issues and put in place processes owned by Africans themselves, become
a lever for new conditionalities imposed by imperialism.
- A virtual silence on gender, and the inter-relationship of patriarchal
oppression and African under-development;
- The serious under-rating of the public and para-statal sectors as key strategic resources for taking forward economic and social infra-structural development
Therefore Resolves that the SACP:
- Has the responsibility to engage actively with the NEPAD process from the
perspective of our own Marxist-Leninist analysis of the current global
conjuncture, and of the underlying imperialist dynamics that continue to
reproduce our continent’s crisis of underdevelopment
- Must support the enormously positive potential in the NEPAD process,
ensuring the widest levels of working class and popular participation and
mobilisation throughout our continent against under-development; and
- With our Alliance, and with all progressive formations within our country
and throughout our continent, must seek to strengthen the many strong points
of the existing NEPAD process, while overcoming shortcomings and potential
- Must seek to rally the widest range of international forces, in particular from among our historical friends and allies, in the struggle against our continent’s crisis of underdevelopment.
This 11th Congress of the SACP, meeting in Rustenburg
The SACP’s strategic commitment to advancing, deepening and defending the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) as a crucial strategic objective in its own right, and as the most direct path to socialism in South Africa; and
The SACP’s longstanding strategic commitment to the Alliance, and to actively building a broad, mass-based ANC committed to the leading role of the working class within the NDR.
And Believing that
Notwithstanding our democratic political advances we have not been able to break out of an accumulation path that is, in many respects, unfavourable to working people and the poor; and
Our current situation has introduced new possibilities but also new challenges, including the emergence of new class strata within our movement
Some of the recent difficulties within the Alliance arise out of problems with policy, particularly economic policy, as well as a lack of a shared understanding on the relationship between the Alliance and governance processes.
There is a need to create space for increased engagement within the Alliance, including for self-criticism and constructive criticism
Therefore Resolves to instruct the Central Committee:
To develop a clear strategy and programme to raise the independent profile of the SACP, both within the alliance and the broader society;
To take active steps to engage in a struggle to promote a working class hegemony within the NDR;
To expand the capacity of the SACP to make its own specific policy proposals on key national issues;
To establish mechanisms to more effectively utilise the large number of SACP members, who are public representatives, to promote SACP policy;
To work with Alliance partners to ensure that the agreements reached at the Ekurhuleni Alliance Summit are implemented;
To advance campaigns that give socialist content to the NDR, including the eradication of poverty, dealing with unemployment and job losses, defending and extending the public sector, free basic services, support for the principle of the Basic Income Grant, land and agrarian reform, recognising unpaid reproductive labour and informal work, building a socialist co-operative movement.
That this 11th Congress meeting in Rustenburg 24-28 July 2002:
Recalling the Resolution "Priority Public Entities" adopted at the 1999 Strategy Conference
Reaffirms its view that:
The public sector and public entities remain critical in the provision of basic services and in shifting our economy onto a growth and development path capable of solving problems of poverty, unemployment and inequality
The strengthening of the public sector and public entities will provide an important stepping stone to socialism
Therefore declares its view that among major sectors producing public goods and services over which the state must maintain strategic ownership and control are the following:
- Municipal Services
- Central Banking
- Development Finance including Industrial Development Corporation
- Transport: most forms of public transport and communications, infrastructure including roads, railways, pipelines, ports and telecommunications
- Electricity supply/strategic energy sectors including the strategic purchase and distribution of liquid fuel
- Mineral rights
- Housing parastatal
Further calls on the incoming Central Committee to refine and develop SACP perspectives, and take forward a national debate on issues of the mandating and governance of public enterprises as service providers rather than profit maximising institutions, as well as on acceptable and beneficial ways in which public enterprises can access resources and technology in the hands of private capital.
The 11th Congress of the South African Communist Party (SACP) noting:
1. The resolutions of the 8th, 9th and 10th Party Congresses as well as the 1999 and 2000 Strategy Conferences pertaining to the challenges of organising the youth into socialism;
2. The weak state in which the youth movement finds itself currently. Part of the explanation for this is the fact that the Party does not have a forum within this sector to assert itself and influence processes;
3. Our programme, which requires that we build the SACP as vanguard party with a relatively mass character.
4. That all provinces have recommended that a Young Communist League be re-established.
5. Resourceful people that they are, young people are capable of confronting problems specific to them by virtue of their youth, through variety of ways, including organised forms;
6. The youth is capable of taking initiative to organise itself in forms appropriate for the pursuit of a resolution of these problems, including into a structure that would carry forth the ideals of socialism;
7. The Party is seized with the responsibility to harness the enthusiasm, elan and preparedness of the youth to organise for socialism;
Therefore resolves to:
8. Re-establish the Young Communist League as a forum for recruitment, induction and training of young people into socialists and communists with the capacity to contribute directly and decisively to the sustainability of the SACP for years to come. The YCL shall be launched by July 2003. Some of the tasks to be undertaken as a build-up to the Re-establishment Congress will include::
8.1 The Central Committee assigning one in its ranks to assume political responsibility for the project; and
8.2 A National Consultative Conference of young members of the SACP, progressive youth and students to be convened within six months of this 11th Congress to consider all aspects pertaining to the YCL, including a constitution, composition, affiliation and programme;
This 11th Congress of the SACP, meeting in Rustenburg
The massive levels of unemployment in South Africa, which have worsened in recent years, with further job losses
That poverty and inequality remain unacceptably high and impact negatively on workers and the poor
That many South Africans still do not enjoy food security, and that the sharply rising food prices have exarcebated the problem
That processes towards the privatisation of public enterprises, including those which provide basic services, impact negatively on the poor
The previous resolutions which the SACP has adopted on these issues
That COSATU has announced the lifting of its suspension of action against privatisation, and has announced a general strike for 1-2 October 2002 against privatisation, job losses, poverty and food security, and that the strike has been called with the objective of advancing the issues raised
A democratic and developmental public sector, and the rolling out of the basic services are building blocks of socialism
That the privatisation of public enterprises, particularly those which provide basic services is likely to undermine service delivery to the poor and to lead to job losses, as confirmed by local and international experiences
As a Party of and for the working class, the SACP needs to mobilise in defence of and in support of the interests of the working class
That the SACP actively and urgently promotes the convening of an Alliance Task Team to facilitate effective engagement and discussion between Alliance partners on this issue in a way that makes the proposed general strike unnecessary
That as we are in a phase of preparation for a Growth and Development Summit, a moratorium be placed on restructuring of public enterprises that impact negatively on the working class
1. That the SACP throws its weight behind the strike
The SACP has not paid sufficient attention – both theoretically and practically - to the issues of land reform, agrarian transformation and rural development
There is a need to properly understand and define the main content of the land and agrarian questions in South Africa
There is a need to support struggles for access to land
There is a need to build motive forces for rural transformation
And Believing that:
A bold state led rural development strategy can help address problems around job creation, service and infrastructural development, sustainable livelihoods to address multiple needs, food security and access to land
Such a strategy will be crucial in particular in helping to address the plight of poor women headed households, which are the majority in the rural areas, and in contributing to the transformation of gender relations in the countryside
The SACP gives urgent attention to issues of land reform, agrarian transformation and rural development in developing its strategy for growth and development, taking note of:
inadequacies in the current land reform programme, seeking to broaden it by
linking it to agrarian reforrn; addressing issues around land ownership, control
and distribution,; exploring collective usage of unused land owned by the state; ensuring that an audit of land is undertaken, especially that land owned by foreigners, the state, or held by chiefs
- the need for an agrarian strategy to address issues of appropriate farming systems, agricultural markets, co – operatives, human development, linkages between agrarian strategy and industrial strategy and the rural and urban areas the need for a rural development strategy to be based not only on a welfare approach but also to be seen as an important part of our growth and development strategy. We also need to take it forward practically.
The SACP needs to increase its visibility in the rural areas, undertaking an analysis of the main class
forces, and helping to organise farmworkers, small farmers, the unemployed rural poor
Greater attention needs to be paid to analysing the nature of, and the transforming of, the rural state and the role that it can play in rural development
This 11th Congress of the SACP
That the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in our country and on the continent is already devastating; that millions of people will suffer poor health; that there are indications that the death rate in our country is rising and that our Human Development Index is declining; that women face an increased burden of care and support and are most vulnerable to HIV infection as a result of patriarchal practices and attitutdes in society.
That a fundamental challenge in arresting this pandemic is to bring down the rate of new infections by a mass campaign and public education promoting awareness about the imperative to change behaviour
That the success of such a campaign is inextricably linked to the struggle for human development, including a radical improvement in literacy, housing provision, a string and effective public health system and employment.
That an effective prevention campaign needs to be complemented by an appropriate treatment programme that can extend the lives and improve the quality of life of persons living with HIV/AIDS and give hope to millions of infected and affected people.
That the private sector in South Africa is manifestly failing to contribute effectively to combating this pandemic; that there are resources available in the private sector that can be mobilised to fight this pandemic; that private appropriation of knowledge in the form of patent and intellectual property rights can be a barrier to making available affordable medicines
Therefore Resolves to strengthen and intensifying the SACP’s contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS, including by:
Mobilisation of our people behind the implementation of an holistic and appropriate government-led strategy to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Actively linking up with and strengthening the work of community organisations involved in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Consciously seeking to transform gender relations and stereotypes that make women and girls the most vulnerable to HIV infection.
Contributing to, and supporting efforts to develop an appropriate treatment plan
Intensifying our campaign against multinational pharmaceutical companies to provide cheaper drugs, not only anti-retrovirals, but also drugs to combat the many curable diseases afflicting our country and continent.
Intensifying the struggle against HIV/AIDS discrimination in all spheres of society, in particular in the workplace and in the financial sector.
Using this campaign as a platform to struggle for the building of a comprehensive public health system.
The 11th Congress of the SACP, convened at Rustenberg, North West Province, from 24 to 28 July 2002,
One of the key terrains of struggle that contributed decisively to the defeat of Apartheid in South Africa was the international solidarity movement.
The contribution of Cuba to the liberation of the peoples of Africa, and of Southern Africa in particular was vital, and was based on selfless and principled internationalism.
The Cuban Revolution and its achievements, particularly in terms of the defence of national sovereignty, internationalism, education, social services and participatory democracy, serve as a model and an inspiration to oppressed peoples all over the world.
It is the duty and responsibility of all progressive forces to support the struggle of the Cuban people to defend their sovereignty and the remarkable achievements of their revolution.
For the past 40 years Cuba has been the victim of sustained criminal and terrorist campaign organised and directed by the exiled Cuban Mafia based in the USA, and supported by the US government, which has caused massive human and financial damage to Cuba.
Cuba, as a sovereign, independent state, has every right, under international law, to employ all reasonable means at its disposal to defend its sovereignty and to combat the terrorist activities of the Miami Cuban Mafia.
Five Cuban counter terrorism operatives have been arrested in the US, convicted and given extremely harsh sentences by the politically corrupt US justice system, serving the interests of the Miami Cuban Mafia.
FOCUS, the South African Friends of Cuba Society, is launching at this Congress a national campaign to secure the release of the five Cuban heroes.
Resolves as follows:
To demand the immediate and unconditional release by the United States government of the five Cuban patriots.
To commit all structures of the SACP to supporting the campaign launched by FOCUS for the release of the five Cuban heroes, by:
Collecting signatures on the FOCUS petition
Encouraging members to write to the US ambassador in South Africa, demanding the release of the five heroes, and
Encouraging members to write letters of support to the imprisoned comrades
To mandate the Central Committee to liaise with Alliance partners, human rights and other civil society organisations to request their support for the FOCUS campaign.
To demand of the US government the immediate and unconditional lifting of the economic blockade imposed on Cuba.
In honour of all members of the South African Communist Party who passed away since the Party’s 10th Congress, this 11th Party Congress officially pays this tribute:
- This 11th Congress salutes these heroes and heroines of our revolution.
- This 11th Congress acknowledges their contribution to the cause of national liberation, people’s power and socialism.
- As a result of their work, the red flag is flying aloft and the torch of socialism is seen by millions of our people and working class militants in every continent of our world to be glowing brightly here in our land.
- It is our task, here at this 11th Congress, to build a powerful, united vanguard of the working class, a party of the poor, a party that empowers the broad masses of our people, that enables them to carry through their historic mission. We must not and will not fail!
Hambani kahle maqabane! Robalang ka Kgotso Dibata!
Tribute by Essop Pahad to Govan Mbeki
Oom Gov’ joined the SACP in the 1950s and remained a communist and a firm believer in the superior morality of socialism to his last day. He threw himself into the work of linking the struggle for socialism in our country with the struggle for the national liberation of black people by cementing strong relations between the SACP, the African National Congress and the trade union movement. He was one of the leading pioneers in the founding of the people’s army – UmKhonto weSizwe. Together with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni, Wilton Mkwayi and Dennis Goldberg he was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial by the apartheid regime in 1964.
Upon his release in, he was immediately part of the people’s struggles to defeat the apartheid regime by contributing to the rebuilding of legal structures of the ANC and the SACP.
In all his work, he distinguished himself as a scholar, a disciplined cadre, a builder and a teacher. Few political activists in our movement have paid such attention to the indigenous application of the science and theory of Marxism to South African realities and conditions. He built and sustained a tradition of excellent political journalism and theoretical writing. His book, "The Peasants Revolt" was a major historical study of peasant struggles in Pondoland and Sekhukhuneland. He came out of Robben Island having published several books and having written many articles used for lectures internationally. Indeed, he was one of the great Marxist writers of the previous century.
Whatever he did was for the revolution. Whatever he said and did was for the struggle and not for himself, or his family. A great giant of the struggle against racism, apartheid and colonialism. A hero, theoretician, leader and teacher of our struggle In his memory let us continue on.
Tribute by Jeremy Cronin to Sonia Bunting (extract)
Comrade Sonia died in March last year. In 1941 she started medical studies. In 1942 she decided to work full-time for the Communist Party, acknowledging that there was a war against fascism and colonialism. In 1946 she married comrade Brian Bunting. She worked for the Guardian newspaper while Brian was the editor. The Guardian was banned and renamed the Clarion, then later renamed to "Advance", then to "New Age, then to "Spark". In 1955 she was a platform speaker in the People’s Congress which adopted the Freedom Charter in Kliptown. She was among those arrested in 1956 for the Treason Trial. In 1960 she was detained without trial. In 1962 she was put under house arrest. During exile comrade Sonia continued her dedicated work for the movement. Sonia was the sole employee of the SACP for more than 20 years. When comrade Sonia and Brian returned from exile she continued working tirelessly for the SACP and was a founding member of the Friends of Cuba Society.
Tribute by Lindelwa Dunjwa to Mbuyiselo Ngwenda (extract)
He was expelled from Fort Hare and then went to work at Volkswagen. He would have been chosen to be a manager but he made a choice to be a worker and became a shopsteward. He was then empowered by NUMSA as an education secretary. It was at that time comrades in the Eastern Cape experienced the true leadership of Mbuyi. He used to say that this thing that professionals are not involved in the struggle is incorrect. Mbuyi was not afraid to stand up and encourage us. He would always say do not run away from controversy. You must bot be afraid to stand up, be independent. He never apologised for standing up and differing.
What was also very important about Mbuyi was that NUMSA had a strong debate about the Alliance. I always asked why in NUMSA is this always raised, and he used to say comrade what is the problem with this being raised – what is important is that it must be raised and we must engage and convince comrades. He would always say that a worker who is not a member of the trade union will never be a comrade, a worker who is not
The majority of us would never have had the courage to fight if it were not for that young militant son. You must develop a cadre that is not dependent on you.
Tribute by Ronnie Kasrils to Rusty Bernstein and Fred Carneson
Rusty Bernstein and Fred Carneson were of that courageous band of communists whom Nelson Mandela famously praised many years ago. They set an example, he said, of sharing every danger with us Africans and acquired a heroic reputation amongst black people in the fight against racism. Let me quote from the renowned communist poet Bertold Brecht "…There are those who struggle for a day and that is good; there are those who struggle for a year and that is better; there are those who struggle for 20 years and that is better still; and then there are those who struggle all their lives and they are the ones we cannot do without."
Without any shadow of a doubt comrades Bernstein and Carneson fit into that category and their contribution is incalculable. There is so much that our present and future generations can learn from those stalwarts and those like them, for learning from them is learning from history. Both comrades were born in 1920. Comrade Fred was born into a working class family in Goodwood in Cape Town. His family lived in a wood and iron house, with no running water and for sanitation purposes – the bucket system. Fred’s family could not afford to keep him in school like many African families, so he left early and became a post office worker.
Rusty was born in Johannesburg of Jewish immigrant parents who died when he was eight. Relatives looked after him and provided him with the means for a good education and he graduated from Wits as an architect. Rusty and Fred did not know each other at that stage. They were both 18 and before long they joined the South African Army and went off to fight the fascists in North Africa and Italy. They served with distinction. Years later in 1995, when I was Deputy Minister of Defence, I took a small party of black and white second world war veterans to Italy to participate in the 50th anniversary celebrations of the victory over fascism. I witnessed Fred Carneson crying over the graves of his close comrades-in-arms who had perished on the battle fields in Italy all those years before. With the onset of war these two had joined the Communist Party.
After the war in 1945 their lives continued to move along similar lines. Both of them married their war-time sweet hearts who were members of the Party, Hilda Watts and Sarah Carneson. Both women were senior in the Party to the men and had influenced them considerably. Both marriages lasted for nearly 60 golden years – based on love, respect and honesty. Communist families in every sense of the word. They shared their trials and tribulations together, as they did their hopes and triumphs. And despite the persecution they suffered and endured, they produced children with good values of whom they could be proud.
Their lives were packed with notable events and achievements. For example, both Rusty and Fred were involved in the 1946 Mineworkers strike, were arrested and charged with JB Marks. Both they and their wives continued to work in the underground Party after its banning in 1950.
Rusty was instrumental in the editing and writing of the Freedom Charter, for he had developed as a brilliant thinker and writer. In fact he became renowned as one of the movement’s most outstanding Marxist theoreticians. By contrast Fred Carneson was an impassioned orator and organiser. Inevitably such outstanding leaders were targets of the enemy and both were arrested in 1956 and were part of the 156 patriots (charged with treason – a trial lasting four years). They were again detained in the 1960 state of emergency. Given their military background both Rusty and Fred were founder members of Umkhonto We Sizwe in 1961 and participated in early actions.
As is well known Rusty was arrested at Rivonia in 1963 and stood trial with Nelson Mandela and others. He was fortunate to be acquitted but placed under house arrest. Together with Hilda he escaped into exile the following year and settled in Britain.
Fred Carneson went into exile in Britain in 1972, having been arrested and tortured for Umkhonto activities, and sentenced to six years imprisonment.
During the long years of exile the faith of the Bernsteins and Carnesons in a free South Africa never wavered. All their spare time was devoted to Party, ANC and Anti-Apartheid work. Rusty was a regular contributor to the AC, edited by Brian Bunting.
Rusty Bernstein’s articles in the AC appeared under the pseudonym "Toussaint" – a black revolutionary in Haiti who led a slave revolt.
Even when he was in his seventies Rusty lectured students in Moscow and SOMAFCO. Last year he spoke at Oom Gov’s memorial in London. He was a quiet reserved person, with a subtle wit and one of the movements most influential thinkers.
While in exile Fred worked full time for the British National Union of Teachers and chaired the Trade union committee of the British anti-apartheid movement. Few could match Fred’s passion, his love of life, his great outgoing humour, his sheer grit and determination.
Fred and Sarah returned to South Africa to Cape Town in 1991. Fred became a local councilor and the Treasurer of the SACP in the province.
What wonderful human beings this struggle has produced, this Party, this trade union movement, this ANC. For they were produced by the revolutionary alliance. Something we must cherish, sustain and be eternally proud of.
If there’s one word that sums up such lives of selflessness, courage and devotion it surely is integrity. They wanted nothing for themselves, they did not crave position, wealth or fame. What was always at the fore was a life of struggle and service in the cause of the people.
They hailed from a tradition of communists who understood that in South Africa class and national struggle are inextricable linked like a tree and its roots to the soil. Therefore as communists they consistently worked to strengthen, and support the ANC as the leading force in the national democratic revolution. When Bertold Brecht says "There are those who struggle all their lives and they are the ones we cannot do without" think of Kotane, Dadoo, Luthuli and Tambo and don’t forget Bernstein and Carneson.
Fred died in Cape Town two years ago in Cape Town at the age of 80. Rusty died a month ago in England at the age of 82. They are survived by their wives and children. Long live their memory!
MEMBERS OF THE SACP WHO PASSED AWAY SINCE THE 10TH CONGRESS
We have received the following names: -
Xola Nene; Phumzile Mshumi; Pinky Ntsangani; Hespro Mzwakhe Cikozana; Govan Mbeki; Mkhululi Bongco; Vatiswa Zantsi; Ryan Mapisa; Bhunga Malobola; Lundi Ceshemba; Sindile Kondlo; Pinkie Mohapi; B.Z. Tsheqane; Mcebisi Bata; Gerald Hawkes; Stone Maqhekeni; Cde. Noqolela; Dugard Maqhekeza; Max Madlingozi; Mnoneleli Heshu; Roro Mge; Cde. Mgobho; Cde. Nduku; Bongani Ncandane; Abel Vaphi
Reburials – Milies; Uitenhage 3; Zonwabele Mayaphi; Mpilo Maqhekeza
Caleb Motshabi; Bonaventura Nkholi; Dan Ranoe
Dr. George Mkhari; Jan Kotlolo; Sipho Kubheka; Toss Ngilima; Sebei Motsoeneng; Doky Matlala; Luyanda Makhuphula; Lebohang Mahata; Tsiu Mabelo; Selby Mayise; Hector Mogapi
Ntela Skhosana; Curnick Ndlovu; Matthew Meyiwa; Phumzile Ntshangase; Hastings Kubheka; Sphiwe Hadebe; Maud Mfusi; Shoots Naidoo; Manqoba Majola; Thongalethu Chamane; Lucky Nsizwana; Freedom Dlamuka; Zibuse Zuma; Vuyani Mchunu; Albert Dlomo; Tryphina Mboxela; Nomusa Mzobe; Bongani Nsele; Dudu Nzuza; Thamsanqa Kubheka; Bonginkosi "Maphov" Phungula; Clifford Siyolo; Muntu "Mafa" Mbhele
Bongani Mabunda; Selbourne Mabunda; Glenda Mulaudzi; Joas Ntloane; Tito Manthata; Sam Makhubela; Malope Edward Piitso
Mpho Jankie; Phillip Radebe; Kgotso Tsotetsi; Joe Makhubedu; William Watts; Themba Monareng; Themba Mthembu; Comrade Jwili
Millicent – a lot still missing!!!!
Frans Rammule; Jeff Maake; Boycie Ziphakamele; Eric Mahlamvu; Patrick Ncitha
Fred Carneson; Sonia Bunting; Lizo Nkonki; Lizo Nobanda; Mam’ Buhlungu; Mam’ Mehlomakhulu; Nkosinathi Mbuyabo
And others whose names we may not have received.
Extracted from the political report delivered to the 1st plenary session of the 11th Congress Central Committee of the SACP held from 23 August)
What is the significance of the 51st National Conference and the September Policy Conference of the ANC? How should the SACP approach these Conferences? What should be our role and contribution?
It is absolutely important that as the SACP we clearly define and understand the tasks of the ANC’s 51st Conference, both in terms of its significance for the ANC and the NDR as a whole, as well as from the standpoint of the SACP. It is our duty and task to ensure that we do all we can to ensure that this Conference becomes a success and it is able to achieve the tasks it has set for itself. A conference of the ANC is a conference about how we defend, advance and deepen the national democratic revolution.
The SACP will be participating in this Conference in two ways. First and foremost communists will be participating at this Conference as members and delegates of the ANC and its branches in their own right. In this regard, it is important that this Central Committee should instruct all communists to ensure that they participate fully in all the discussions leading up to the Conference, including the policy conference in September, not under a Party mandate but as ANC members. Nevertheless, communist members of the ANC need to benefit from discussions in the Party, as well as how the Party sees the importance of this Conference and the issues for discussion. It is therefore critical that communists familiarise themselves with all the discussion documents for both the policy and national conferences in order to constructively participate in the debates.
The second way through which we will participate in this Conference is as the SACP. It is therefore important that we fully familiarise ourselves with all the documents and seek to constructively contribute to the debates as the SACP. We should consistently, but in in a non-sectarian and inclusive manner, seek to bring to bear working class perspectives, dimensions and concerns into the debates within the ANC. Doing so does not mean the absence of such perspectives within the ANC, but it is something we should constantly do and never take for granted, as part of assisting the ANC in its working class bias. In doing so we might also need to constantly assess, frankly and in a comradely manner, the extent to which the weight of working class issues are felt within the ANC.
Firstly, the theme of the ANC Conference (People’s Power in Action. Phambili MaVolontiya. Afrika ke Nako) is important and provides a useful entry point to this discussion. It raises the theme of building people’s power and mass mobilisation which the ANC and the alliance as a whole have not paid sufficient attention to in the current period. Here we highlight a few examples.
For us the theme of "People’s Power in Action" is perhaps the most crucial challenge facing the ANC in this particular period. In the recent past we had noted that there is indeed a very real danger that unless the ANC is able to mobilise and hegemonise over the popular struggles on a variety of fronts, the ANC is likely to lose touch with its base. IT was also for this reason that we welcomed the ANC’s 2002 programme of action under the Letsema campaign – as part of the mobilisation of the people towards defending and advancing the NDR.
However there are a number of serious concerns that we should raise and seek to address on the critical challenge of building people’s power. First of all, the Letsema campaign, much as it started on a high note at the beginning of the year, it has, for all intents and purposes, practically fizzled out. Why? This is a question we might want to ask and take it to the very conference in order to learn the appropriate lessons. It seems as if the emphasis of the Letsema campaign has been more on symbolic volunteering around specific tasks and projects without adequate attention being paid to sustained, transformative mass mobilisation. As a result most of the campaign has been taken up more as a government programme rather than at organisational and mass level. Related to this has been an absence of an elaboration of the transformation tasks and objectives expected to emerge out of the campaign. This is a challenge we need to take up and seek to make a contribution. Could the weakness also not be related to the ambitiousness of the campaign by seeking to take up too many issues, instead of focusing on a few critical campaigns and seek to drive them in a mass-driven and sustainable manner?
One concern that we raised some two years ago, and the ANC documents also seek to grapple with, is the issue of a number of mass campaigns where the ANC and government have either been targets or absent or taken ambiguous stances about. For example the ANC took either a critical attitude or abstaining towards the SACP’s and COSATU’s jobs and poverty eradication campaigns of 2000. Mass mobilisation around the HIV/AIDS pandemic have largely been directed against the ANC and government. Similarly mass campaigns around land reform, the effects of privatisation on delivery of social services and jobs, and other sectoral campaigns around electricity cut-offs, the Basic Income Grant campaign for instance, have largely either been directed against the ANC and government, or characterised by a conspicuous absence of active ANC mobilisation and campaigning around these. Even the SACP-led campaign for the transformation of the financial sector, there has been an absence of the organisational weight of the ANC, other than as government in NEDLAC forums.
The ANC did not come out positively in the COSATU-led and SACP-supported campaign against job losses and poverty. The mass mobilisation around the lockout clause and the passing of the Labour Relations Act are an example of how the ANC could have engaged with this campaign.
The ANC (as the leader of society), and the alliance as a whole, have not been able to lead and harness all the contemporary major mass struggles towards transformation. The struggle for affordable medicines started in 1999 was initially directed towards drug companies and the US government, and it later focused on the programme of the South African government. The ANC, inside and outside of government, was not able to engage creatively with, and harness the momentum of this important campaign even when it provided a strategic opportunity during the April 2000 court case against drug companies. COSATU has been able to play a more strategic role in this struggle even though this seems to have been used by other forces to hopefully deepen divisions in the alliance. The SACP has also inadequately attempted to play a role in this struggle even though this has been weakened by insufficient resources and capacity.
Despite our programmatic and legislative commitments, we have allowed other forces to lead and direct struggles around access to basic services (electricity, water, sanitation), access to land and land reform in a manner that growing sections of our people may lose confidence in our movement. Even though a formal part of the financial sector campaign, the ANC has not mobilised its resources and structures actively behind this campaign.
In essence major mass-based and popular campaigns have taken place either in an oppositional fashion to the ANC and government or with the absence of active participation and leadership of the ANC. This is a matter of serious concern that needs to be addressed seriously. It is at least heartening that the Conference discussion documents recognise and identify this as a problem:
"We have also seen the evolution of new issue-based organisations such as the TAC, Jubilee 2000, the BIG Coalition, and local community structures such as the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee and others. These issue-based organisations mobilise around genuine grievances in particular communities or sectors, yet tend to do this in opposition to the democratic government and often the ANC, because of subjective weaknesses on our side or because we have left a vacuum" (Umrabulo No.16, August 2002, p.23)
It is indeed very important that this weakness is primarily and correctly attributed to the subjective weaknesses of the ANC itself, as opposed to the new tendency (found in our movement nowadays) of negatively labelling these struggles as "ultra-left", "infantile" and "lacking an understanding of the ‘bigger picture’". However, this welcome recognition and identification of this subjective weakness still sit uneasily with a tendency to regard legitimate sectoral struggles (and even class struggles of the working class) with suspicion and as necessarily narrow. For instance in reference to the Tripartite Alliance the document says
"The ANC’s leadership of the TPA does not derive from pursuing the narrow interests of a particular class or stratum, but rather the ability to unite these forces of change in practice, with emphasis on the interests of the poor. In the same vein, working class leadership of the NDR means, among others, articulation of its own far-sighted positions and at the same time defining a common platform for all the forces interested in democratic transformation" (Umrabulo, p.24)
Whilst this observation is generally true, but it tends to reduce class interests as necessarily and inherently narrow, and does not distinguish the class interests of the working class from those of the bourgeoisie. The two are very distinct, precisely because those of the former are not inherently narrow, whilst those of the latter are, by definition selfish and very narrow. This is the challenge we need to take up in the ANC discussions prior to, and including the Conference itself. It is a task of also engaging around the fact that sectoral interests and their expression are not inherently problematic or "infantile", though they can be, but that the task is to harness these sectoral interests towards the broader revolutionary objective, instead of treating them with suspicion and as "conspiracies". Approaching these issues from this standpoint is the essence of ANC leadership over the NDR, and will go a long way in addressing the subjective weakness in the movement. The subjective weakness that the ANC itself identifies is not only a result of organisational weaknesses, but also suspicion towards, and consequently failure to lead, legitimate sectoral struggles emanating from the mass of the people of our country. This should be the basis of our engagement around these issues.
The above problems and challenges arise from another complexity that the ANC discussion documents identify. This is that
"Our position as both a ruling party and a mass based movement, imposes certain objective problems in our relation to civil society. For example, many civil society campaigns are explicitly aimed at lobbying or changing government policy. How does the ANC relate to such campaigns" (Umrabulo, p.22)
This is perhaps the nub of the issue and the challenge for the ANC after the 1994 democratic breakthrough. This challenge also emphasises the need to understand both the relationship and distinction between the ANC as an organisation and government. Some of the gaps that the document talks about arises out of this tension. For instance where communities are complaining against an ANC controlled council about rates increases, should the ANC structures not take up this issue because of fear that it might have to engage, and even sometimes oppose actions of, its own council? These are some of the "objective problems" that the ANC will face in the current period. The solution to this is that of building strong organs of people’s power, as well as strong accountability of government structures to the ANC itself. Underlying all the above is the absolute centrality of "people’s power in action", and the need to harness popular power to drive transformation, instead of a suspicious and distant, critical attitude towards sectoral struggles. Building people’s power should form the core and the foundation of the ANC’s strategy and tactics in the coming period. It is in this area where the ANC would be strengthened or weakened. The SACP should therefore have a strong focus in this area of the discussions in the lead up to and including at Conference.
Another critical issue facing the ANC at this point in time is its structured relationship to working class mobilisation and militancy. If truth be told there is a dominant trend where the ANC is extremely suspicious of working class mobilisation and militancy, as if this is inherently directed towards the ANC and government. For instance, instead of adopting a critical and dismissive attitude towards the jobs campaign in 2000, the ANC should have sought to harness and lead these struggles. The foundation of people’s power is working class power. Without working class power, there can be no people’s power, precisely because of the organisation muscle and mass traditions of the organised working class in particular. This is one concrete way through which the SACP can bring to bear the weight and perspectives of the working class into the political practice of the ANC.
We go to this extent in order to underline the challenge for the ANC in harnessing mass struggles and the need for the SACP to playing its role in ensuring that the ANC is bold, leads and engages these struggles in a manner which builds people’s power and reinforces state power. Otherwise there is a real danger of the ANC collapsing into government.
The above analysis brings to the fore the perennial question about the impact, influence and role of the working class in the ANC. We need to evaluate this question. Structurally, what is the extent of the involvement in the NEC and other leadership structures of ordinary workers and working class leaders? What does this mean? Are working class issues and concerns able to be channelled directly to the leadership and structures of our movement if there is no critical mass of ordinary workers and working class leaders in these structures? Why have workers and working class leaders not played their role in building and leading the ANC? How is the organised voice of the working class making its impact at all levels of the ANC? How does the working class ensure that the ANC bias towards the working class is maintained organisationally and programmatically?
Thirdly, the 11th Congress resolution on the alliance directs us to focus on the implementation of the Ekurhuleni agreements on the economy in particular. What are the key issues in this regard? How do we take forward the work done on a Growth and Development Strategy?
Perhaps one of the most significant challenges facing the ANC conference is that of building on the Ekurhuleni summit on consolidating unifying perspectives around a growth and development strategy. The Conference in itself provides a further opportunity for the Alliance to work towards a common approach to growth and development. Our contribution as the SACP to conference is that our participation should consciously aim to contribute towards a further elaboration of growth and development strategy and preparing the ANC to lead the programme of action adopted at Ekurhuleni.
Indeed communists, in their individual capacities as ANC members, as well as in a structured way, should participate in all the discussions and issues at Conference, but our benchmarks and point of departure should be around building people’s power and the hegemony of the ANC over popular struggles, as well as in the area of a growth and development strategy. It should also be from these perspectives that the issue of NEPAD should be approached, the need to mobilise the mass of our people on the continent to drive and lead a continental growth and development strategy.
It is also from the anchor of building people’s power, ANC popular hegemony and growth and development strategy that we should also approach the question of state power and governance. In fact our approach to all the key questions raised in the documents, this should be our overall perspective, without by any means avoiding detailed engagement with the policy and political questions raised in the documentation. It is through this that we can operationalise the Freedom Charter, that the people shall govern, as the anchor to our engagement with the challenge of the ANC’s 51st Conference!