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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 6, No. 23, 19 December 2007

In this Issue:


Red Alert

The revolution is on trial (9): But a foundation has been laid to redirect and consolidate it

Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

The SACP congratulates the newly elected national officials of the ANC, led by President Zuma. We also wish to congratulate our National Chairperson, Cde Gwede Mantashe, for his election to the important position of Secretary General of the ANC. In this he follows in the footsteps of other outstanding Communist stalwarts of the past, like comrades Moses Kotane, JB Marks and Dan Tloome, who have served concurrently as officials of both the Party and ANC.

Despite persistent, and often mischievous, characterization of the conference as chaotic, we found the conference vibrant, dynamic and characterized by intense debates. Though the ANC National Policy Conference six months ago extensively debated and made several policy recommendations, debates in the commissions continue to be vibrant with very high levels of participation and deep reflections on what was adopted at the policy conference. As the SACP we are pleased that through our own participation, many of the very progressive policy recommendations made in June seem set to be adopted.

ANC delegates to this historic 52nd National Conference have voted in large numbers for change and renewal within the leading formation of our tripartite alliance. Delegates have affirmed their conviction that the ANC belongs to its membership. We congratulate these thousands of delegates for refusing to be swayed by all manner of blandishments foreign to the culture of our movement.

The SACP believes that the electoral renewal of ANC leadership provides a platform on which to rebuild our alliance around a shared programme of action. For too long, intra-alliance relationships have been marked by recriminations and stand-offs. We warmly welcome the ANC Conference commitment to holding an Alliance Summit within three months.

ANC delegates have sent a clear message, but the electoral outcome of this conference does not mean that the underlying challenges of our society have gone away - poverty, unemployment, deepening inequality. As an alliance leadership, we will be failing the hopes and aspirations of the thousands of ANC branch delegates if we do not use the new reality as a platform to address with an even greater sense of urgency and determination these realities that impact upon millions of South Africans.

The resolutions that the ANC is taking at this conference, following on the June National Policy Conference, are, therefore, as important as the leadership elections. In particular, the SACP warmly welcomes emerging policy perspectives on industrial policy, a strong developmental state, an accelerated land and agrarian reform programme, and measures to address unemployment. What is needed now is much greater determination to drive forward these transformational, progressive policy perspectives, using the state and popular organization, participation and mobilization.

This is not a moment for triumphalism or factional revenge. Those inclinations will simply plunge us into another cycle of inward-focused manoeuvring. Let us devote our energies to uniting around the tasks of transformation. However, unity can only be built if we are collectively prepared to reflect critically and self-critically on why a particular section of leadership, with all of the advantages of incumbency, has found itself voted out by thousands of ANC branches. What lessons must we all draw from this? How do we ensure that we do not repeat the same errors? How do we build a stronger and more united ANC and alliance?

The SACP pledges to be a loyal and reliable ally in this necessary process of reflection. In particular, we believe that we all need to understand leadership is something that has to be earned daily on the ground and amongst millions of ordinary South Africans - whether we are speaking of leadership of our respective formations, or the leadership role of the ANC in our tripartite alliance.

This ANC Conference has re-committed the ANC to being both a party of governance and a national liberation movement. This Conference has said that the key pillar of ANC activity is the pillar of mass organization and mobilization. These are proud ANC traditions that have tended to be marginalized in the recent period.

The SACP believes that it is critical that we reaffirm the leading role of the ANC in developing broad strategic policy perspectives without, of course, seeking to micro-manage government. We certainly need a skilled and professional cadre in government, but we must avoid the dangers of a technocratic (not to mention corporate) capture and aloofness.

As the SACP said in its message delivered at this Conference, we are firmly of the view that one of the biggest challenges and tasks for the ANC in the years ahead is that of revitalizing its structures to take up and lead campaigns on an ongoing basis and not only interact with our people only during election periods and through government izimbizo (people`s forums). Much as these government-led izimbizo are important, the ANC itself as an organization needs ongoing dynamic contact with its mass base. The reaction of the delegates at this conference also has a lot to do with the gap that has grown between the leading cadre of the movement and its mass base.

Another matter that will require urgent attention is that of striking the correct balance between party and state. This has certainly been one of the serious faultiness in the past period. The SACP firmly believes that there is no inherent contradiction between the ANC as the ruling party and the ANC as a campaigning, mass based, national liberation movement. Instead government programmes are best driven in the context of a campaigning ANC, also acting together with its allies.

However, despite this new environment, which bodes well for revitalizing the alliance, the SACP re-affirms its perspective that the ANC needs to be reconfigured in line with the post-1994 challenges, and especially now taking into account the post 2007 conditions, and our experiences prior to that. In re-affirming our alliance and the leadership of the ANC, the SACP shall never at any stage surrender its independence as the vanguard party of South Africa`s working class. It is only an independent SACP that will best be able to safeguard the interests of the working class in any alliance, as well as build the capacity and hegemony of the working class as the leading motive force in the national democratic revolution and the struggle for socialism. As our programme adopted at our 12th Congress, the South African Road to Socialism, reaffirms, a working class led national democratic revolution is our shortest route to socialism.

The 52nd ANC National Conference has provided a platform for a significant renewal and advance of our progressive movement. The SACP pledges to work as a force for unity and dynamism in the context of these new possibilities.