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Volume 6, No. 14, 1 August 2007

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Fighting patriarchy and building a progressive women`s movement is part of our Medium Term Vision (MTV)

Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

Fighting patriarchy and building a progressive women`s movement is part of our Medium Term Vision (MTV)

This past weekend the SACP celebrated its 86th anniversary, with the national event held at the University of Limpopo, and with a number of local celebrations in a number of our districts and branches. We celebrated our anniversary under our 12th Congress theme "Communists to the Front to Build a Better, Socialist World".

We used our anniversary celebrations to report back on some of the key resolutions from our highly successful 12th Congress. We are a confident Party with a clear political programme for the next five years. We have committed ourselves to lead a struggle to build working class hegemony in the whole of society, with priority given to the state, the economy, the workplace, the communities, ideologically and through deepening international solidarity.

It is within this context that we seek to wage struggles in society to address the national, class and gender contradictions, including our approach to women`s struggles in South Africa.

August is South Africa`s Women`s Month, with August 9 as National Women`s Day. The SACP has taken a decision that as from this year, whilst continuing to support and actively participate in government-led celebrations and programmes, we shall in addition encourage our districts to hold SACP month long activities during the women`s month. This decision is guided by the fact that women`s month activities must not be left to government alone, but our own political formations must drive these activities. Mass mobilization and campaigns are necessary in deepening progressive women`s struggles in society.

According to the SACP, the fundamental challenge during this women`s month is to take forward the task of building a progressive women`s movement (PWM) in our country. It is a year since this movement was launched in Bloemfontein. We note with satisfaction progress that has been made in launching some of the provincial structures of the PWM.

However the SACP is concerned that there is still no visible, dynamic and active programme to drive the building of this movement. Building the PWM should not be a dry bureaucratic exercise of launching structures outside of a concrete programme of action. The task and challenge for the SACP is however not to whinge, but to actively take up concrete issues around the building of the PWM, as part of speeding up the process of launching PWM structures in all the nine provinces.

Building a PWM must be located within the framework of our MTV. In other words the task of building working class hegemony in society must be driven through the mobilization of especially working class women to be central participants in this task. For example, seeking to build working class power in the state must centrally involve building the power of working class women in state structures and through struggles to challenge the clearly patriarchal character of the state. This challenge is also important in giving content to the struggles for 50/50 representation in the state. It is not adequate to count 50% women say in a legislature, outside of a concrete programme to confront patriarchy in such an institution.

As the SACP we have consistently and correctly argued that 50/50 devoid of its class content can only lead to the affirmation of an elite layer of women, without consideration to the needs and aspirations of working class women.

Similarly, our argument for a developmental state, now strongly affirmed by the ANC Policy Conference, must find concrete expression in placing the needs of working class women at the centre of such a developmental state. Our guide should be that there can be no developmental state in the midst of patriarchy.

The SACP will use its activities to celebrate the women`s month as a platform to start implementing some of the resolutions that we have adopted at our 12th Congress. Our Congress has resolved to mobilize our structures to fight patriarchy at all levels of society as the main platform through which to empower women and intensify struggles for gender equality. Our Congress resolution on patriarchy commits the SACP to:

"Strongly engage patriarchal ideas, attitudes and practices
"To educate women and men on the negative impact of patriarchy
"To advance progressive gender theory and practice with the SACP and society to challenge patriarchal relations
"To campaign against gender based violence
"To develop policy and campaigns to socialize unpaid reproductive labour
"To challenge unequal gender relations in society, including involvement of women in community decision making"

The SACP Congress further correctly observed that the bedrock of patriarchy in South Africa is colonialism of a special type, and that this system was built upon the exploitation of the unpaid labour of women. It is women who also bore most of the social brunt of the migrant labour system, and their sweat was the foundation upon which the superexploitation of the black working class was built. It is therefore impossible to transform the persisting colonial character of our economy, without placing the question of the unpaid labour of women at the centre of building working class hegemony in the economy.

Therefore we expect all our structures, especially at district levels to use this Women`s month to popularize our resolutions and to engage our communities on how together we can implement these resolutions. It is also going to be important to intensify our Know Your Neighbourhood Campaign, to focus on particular problems facing women in our communities.

Our campaigns should from now onwards much more strongly factor the struggle against patriarchy. In other words we need to commit ourselves to ensuring that all forms of patriarchal practices are eliminated in for instance the lending practices of the banks, in the insurance regime in our country, and all other forms of discrimination that women still suffer in our financial sector in general.

Similarly the struggle for land and agrarian transformation must focus on the fight against the prevalent gender inequalities in land ownership and redistribution, including the struggle to eliminate patriarchal practices in allocation and inheritance of land titles. Much as many of our laws have, on paper, eliminated these forms of discrimination, but in practice patriarchy is still deeply entrenched in matters relating to land issues.

The SACP therefore calls upon all its structures to convene gender forums during this August month to popularize our campaigns and engage our communities and the working class in particular on the centrality of the struggle against patriarchy in our daily struggles. These gender forums must also critically engage with what concrete struggles we need to wage together with our communities to fight gender-based violence especially that directed against the girl-child.

The SACP structures must also use these gender forums to concretely evaluate progress in building a working class-led progressive women`s movement, including additional tasks and challenges in this regard, as well as how to root such a movement in our communities daily struggles on the ground.

Indeed women`s month must also be used to intensify our struggle against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Patriarchy is perhaps the single biggest contributor to the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Patriarchy is the principal cause and motor for gender inequalities in sexual relations thus making women more vulnerable to HIV infection.

These activities should however not be restricted to the women`s month. Rather we should use this year`s women`s month to launch these activities as part of the ongoing activities of the SACP. It is this that we can bring to bear in not just building the PWM, but a working class led progressive women`s movement.



SACP congratulates Cde Thulas Nxesi

The SACP would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the General Secretary of SADTU and a member of the SACP Tembisa Branch for his re-election as the President of Education International, representing around 30 million teachers worldwide.

Cde Thulas, a dedicated educator and communist, has for a long time been in the forefront of education struggles including the unification of the teachers unions in our country, and he is a committed campaigner for the provision of quality, free public education and an active leader in COSATU structures and the ANC.

In his re-election he joins the team of other unionists from our country who have been entrusted with leading international trade union movements. This signifies the important role that the workers of this country have to play in leading the onslaught against imperialism and the barbaric neo-liberal policies both domestically and globally.

Issued by the SACP.

Malesela Maleka
SACP Spokesperson
082 226 1802