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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 8, No. 1, 21 January 2009

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Communist cadres to the front…. For an overwhelming ANC victory and the defense of our revolution

Blade Nzimande and Jeremy Cronin

The year 2009 is indeed upon us. Like the years since 1994, our revolution is faced with a contradictory reality of seeking to advance, deepen and consolidate a radical national democratic revolution on a terrain of the dominance of the capitalist system, globally and domestically. Capitalist domination, by its very nature poses a serious obstacle to the attainment of the many goals of our democracy, especially the struggle to overcome class, gender and racial inequalities.

However the major difference between the early- to mid-1990s period and 2009 is that in the former period capitalism was on a triumphalist path after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialist states, but we enter 2009 with a capitalist system that is in severe crisis. As the SACP has correctly pointed out, deep as this crisis is, it does not herald the imminent collapse of the capitalist system. Instead, and ironically, both the triumphalist dominance and the current crisis of the capitalist system still pose serious challenges for a developing country like ours.

Nevertheless, we need to fully explore opportunities that maybe presented by the current global capitalist crises to, amongst other things, deepen progressive international solidarity and build an interventionist, developmental state in our country; and transform the current colonial capitalist trajectory. Capitalist ideologues, the likes of Iraj Abedian, are conveniently using the current crisis to try and (ideologically) blackmail the Left into passive submission to the current logic of capitalist accumulation. Yet the fundamental challenge we face is how, without underestimating the very serious dangers posed by the current capitalist system, we use this crisis to challenge the colonial capitalist trajectory underway in our country.

For instance, the high food prices require that we intensify land reform, reverse the 'willing seller, willing buyer' model, and release more land for food production, especially for the poor; regulate and redirect moneys in the hands of the financial sector towards productive investement; etc. Yet, the likes of Abedian tell us not the rock the boat, but continue with a market driven land reform and a highly monopolized, white owned financial capitalist sector. We need to ensure that it is progressive policy debates that dominate our own internal political debates and also seek to consistently put these in the public discourse. Unfortunately, South African mainstream media, as we will further point out below, is hopelessly incapable of assisting us to properly understand the current global economic crises and debate the possible threats, options and opportunities for our country in the wake of the global capitalist crises.

One of the key tasks of the SACP this year and beyond, and indeed that of the Alliance as a whole, is to try and focus our structures on some of these key policy questions and debates, and seek also to place these in the broader public arena, not only just through the media, but also through closer ideological and policy engagements with the mass of the people of our country. Fortunately the ANC's Election Manifesto provides just such an opportunity to engage both our structures and broader society in intensive policy discussions and debates. The ANC NEC 2009 January 8th Statement, as delivered by the ANC President, Cde Jacob Zuma in East London on 10 January 2009, poignantly emphasizes the same challenge:

"We have to acknowledge that the ANC has not been doing sufficient political education in the recent past. Branches must make political education part of the process of campaigning for the elections
"The most important task of the beginning of the year is to ensure that the ANC returns a decisive elections victory. Members must be knowledgeable about our Manifesto and programmes, and be an active part of the campaigning process"

This should not only be task of the ANC and its structures, but communists must make sure that they take an active part in ensuring thorough engagement of our structures and the working class on the many important policy issues as contained in the ANC's Election Manifesto. It is therefore important that as part of our elections effort in support of the ANC, we also ensure that communists properly understand the contradictory global and domestic realities facing our revolution, and the challenges they pose for policy development in our country.

That is why we say, Communist cadres to the front, to deepen ideological and policy engagements with the working class and broader South African society!

Towards an overwhelming ANC electoral victory

The year 2009 is by all accounts a very important year in our journey to create a better South Africa for all, through a working class led national democratic revolution. The most immediate challenge is that of embarking on an intensive election campaign in support of an ANC overwhelming victory in the 2009 elections. For communists, the task is clear, we need to deepen our work of further tightening our election structures, and deepen close contact with voters, through our Know Your Neighbourhood campaign, Red Forums, and effective participation of SACP members and structures in the ANC's election structures.

To achieve the above, the SACP will, this coming Monday, be holding an important national elections workshop, bringing together our national leadership and our provincial and district election campaign structures, to refine our election programme as mandated by our Augmented Central Committee of November 2008. The primary task of all the SACP structures over the next few months is that of throwing everything into the election campaign in order to ensure that the ANC emerges with an even bigger majority in the 2009 elections.

Mobilise to defeat our detractors and renegades

Like in the past, our detractors are leaving no stone unturned to try and weaken, divide and divert the ANC and the Alliance away from this important task. It is important for our Party to properly understand these tactics so that we can defeat them and keep focused on the major task at hand. These attempts are taking various forms including new ones that we have not seen before.

One of such attempts which we have extensively analyzed in our latest addition of Bua Komanisi (Volume 7, Issue 2, November 2008), is that of the breakaway of renegades from the ANC, whose main immediate intention is to divide and weaken the ANC. Our task is to teach them a lesson in the forthcoming elections by returning the ANC with an overwhelming majority.

As has been the case in the past, South African mainstream media continues to act as the opposition to the ANC, rather than, as it normally claims, act as an independent voice to inform society in a fair and impartial manner. We should of course not be surprised by this.
We should always remind ourselves that South African mainstream media, both during the colonial, apartheid era and after 1994, has always been opposed to the African National Congress and the alliance it leads. It has historically tended to support most of the initiatives aimed at defeating the ANC and our alliance, including supporting any breakaway factions from within our ranks. It lauded the breakaway of PAC from the ANC in 1959; consistently reported in favour of the IFP against the ANC, especially during the era of intensified counter-revolutionary violence directed at the liberation and mass democratic movements; lauded the formation of the United Democratic Movement in the mid 1990s by Holomisa and Meyer.

It should therefore come as no surprise that mainstream media is also lauding, and sections of actively promoting, the formation of the latest breakaway from the ANC, the Gang of Three and Co led by Lekota. This formation, not tested through any election and clearly failing to attract the numbers of people it hoped to attract, is nevertheless presented by the media as if it were a big formation, simply because it is seen by media as having the potential to weaken, if not destabilize, the ANC.

Even more serious is the arrogant and blatant bias of the public broadcaster, the SABC, towards these renegades from the ANC. It would not be amiss nor an exaggeration in fact to say that the blatant abuse of the SABC by the current board and the SABC news division has turned the acronym 'SABC' to mean 'South African Broadcasting Cope'.

Significant sections of South African mainstream media has continued to allow itself to be used either by factions or detractors who want to present the ANC and the alliance as a divided house, characterized by internal infighting and suspicions. We should see this for what it is, a continuation of attempts to weaken our movement. In fact, the real opposition in South Africa is not the tens of small political parties, but the mainstream media! That is why we are not fooled by the pretensions and pious commitments by the SABC and Political Editors of the Independent Group of Newspapers that they will be impartial. Instead they will continue to thrive on sensationalist and divisive reporting during the elections, something that they have already started in earnest.

In fact when the ANC achieves its overwhelming electoral victory in a few months, the biggest loser is not going to be the opposition parties, including the Gang of 3, but South African mainstream media! It will be caught flatfooted and humiliated in the same way that it was by the outcomes of the ANC's Polokwane Conference in December 2007.

The second reason why the media is so hostile to the ANC and the alliance is that it is media that is controlled by the capitalist classes. The unity of the ANC and the alliance has always posed a threat to dominant capitalist interests in our country, as a radical national democratic revolution, led by a united ANC and a united alliance, pose a threat to the established, colonial capitalist trajectory in our country. And in fact, in the current period, one main reason why some elements of the established capitalist class support the Gang of 3 is that this Gang, when at the helm of government, forged a developmental path that restored capitalist profitability and willingly subjected itself as a compradorial class to the dominant capitalist classes in our country.

It is for the above reason that South African mainstream media is deeply anti-communist and anti-working class, hence the re-emergence of various forms of 'rooi gevaar' in its columns, in a manner perhaps that we have not seen since the pre-1990 period.

The task of communists therefore is not to be distracted by all these, but to understand the class character of these manouvres and focus on close interaction with the workers and the poor of our country. Our media is the Red Forums, door-to-door campaigns, and sustained mass mobilization!

It is therefore important to also build upon the highly successful mass mobilization we started a few months ago, to ensure that we deepen the umbilical cord between our movement and the workers and the poor of our country.

Communist cadres to the front, to defeat our detractors and ensure an overwhelming ANC electoral victory in 2009!