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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 8, No. 17, 7 October 2009

In this Issue:

Red Alert

2009 Red October Campaign…. Roll back the corrupting intersection between private accumulation and public service!

Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

On Sunday 4 October 2009, the SACP held a lively and vibrant rally to launch its national 2009 Red October Campaign in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. It was one of the best attended rallies in that part of our country, and once more underlined the mobilisational capacity of the SACP through campaigns that capture the hearts and minds of the workers and the poor of our country.

There are three inter-related aspects to our 2009 Red October Campaign: building an affordable and quality health system for all; intensifying the struggle against corruption in all of society; and disrupting the intersection between business and public service interests.

In this publication we have before said a lot about the centrality of the establishment of a national health insurance scheme (NHI) for the provision of accessible, affordable and quality health care for all South Africans. The fundamental principle of an NHI is that of ensuring that every South African, rich or poor, black or white, employed or unemployed, is covered by this scheme. The aim of the scheme is to ensure that no South African must be expected to make an upfront payment for health services, whether in the public or private health care sector. In addition, those who have resources must subsidise those who do not have, and that we build an equitable health care system, where we move away from the current unequal and unjust, regime, where more than 60% of resources poured into health services benefit only about 14% of the population, which happens to be on private medical aid schemes.

The reason for the mobilization of our people around the NHI is two-fold. Firstly, to explain the principles and objectives of an NHI; and how such a system is going to benefit the overwhelming majority of our people. Secondly, to counter the reactionary efforts by the capitalist classes in the private health sector to defeat or undermine government`s efforts towards the establishment of the NHI. It is our conviction, as has been consistently shown in the past that only mobilized popular power can defeat the greed of capitalism and ensure that the workers and the poor themselves drive programmes for their own benefit.

To this end, we shall use our 2009 Red October Campaign to convene thousands of red forums, in communities and workplaces, to discuss the NHI and ensure that it is properly understood by all our people. Where necessary we shall also be calling marches and demonstrations to expose the greed of capitalist health institutions and mobilize our people to roll back the market in the provision of health care.

The second and major focus of our 2009 Red October Campaign is that of disrupting the relationship between private business interests and public service. Most promising revolutions, especially in capitalist environments, have faltered and even rolled back because of the triumph of money and moneyed interests over the interests of the workers and the poor.

Some of our detractors, both inside and outside our movement, argue against this focus of our campaign is inappropriate on the grounds that ours is a multi-class movement that embraces all social classes. Yes, this is true, BUT:

  • Much as our movement is a multi-class movement, and that is precisely where its strength lies, at the same time it is a movement biased towards the workers and the poor. Such a bias is informed by the fact that our struggle is about fighting poverty and to drastically reduce social inequalities in society. In order to achieve these objectives the interests of the overwhelming majority of our people (the workers and the poor) must be at the centre of our ongoing national democratic revolution. The very concept of a national democratic revolution is premised on the leading role of the working class in the transformation of South African society.

  • Being a multi-class movement does not equal to class neutrality. In fact class neutrality is a myth, and is often used as a cover to privilege the interests of elites over those of the masses.

  • We are also faced with the very real danger of two, but deeply interrelated, threats. The first one is that of the use of access to state power or holding of public office as a platform for private capitalist accumulation. Existing in our society today is the practice of use of public office to give out tenders by those who hold such office for their own benefit and to dispense patronage. This is what our 2009 Special Congress discussion document refers to as `the throwing of the javelin` or `tenderpreneurship`. In fact such practices are completely unfair to those entrepreneurs, especially SMEs, who are working hard to build their businesses, whilst those occupying state office and simultaneously issue tenders for their own benefit have a hugely unfair advantage. The second threat is that using business influence to try and capture the state so that it serves such private business interests. It is for this reason, amongst others, that both the ANC and SACP have taken resolutions for their leadership collectives at various levels to declare their business interests and associations.

We shall use our Red October Campaign to openly discuss these dangers and spread awareness and ideological consciousness about the dangers of this relationship to our people. This by no means imply, as some of our detractors also say, that people in leadership positions are prevented from pursuing business interests. But these cannot be pursued in a parasitic manner and at the direct expense of servicing the interests of our people as a whole. Disrupting the intersection between holding of public office and using such to pursue private business interests, as well as the opposite phenomenon, is an absolute condition for building a developmental state.

The third component of our Red October Campaign is that of intensifying the struggle against corruption. Whilst this is distinct from the above, but there is a relationship between the two. It is usually on the interface between public office and private business interests that corruption festers. However, corruption is not only found in the public sector, but it is also widespread practice in the private sector as well, and must therefore be rooted out in the whole of society. It is for this reason that the SACP welcomed the initiative by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union to expose corruption and mismanagement at the South African Airways.

Through the convening of red forums the SACP seeks to mobilize our people and build their confidence in exposing corruption. Often people are aware of corrupt practices, but are afraid to act because sometimes it is powerful individuals who are involved. Or even where they point out such maladies no action is taken. We believe that through the organized mass power and awareness of our people we can deepen the struggle against corruption and that appropriate action is taken whenever this happens.

As we say in our Special Congress discussion document, the struggle against corruption is not only a moral struggle, but it is a principled political struggle at the heart of defending and advancing the national democratic revolution. It is an essential condition for the realization of the five priorities of the ANC-led alliance election manifesto.

Once more our Red October Campaign is a call to all communists to be at the forefront of the mobilization of our people… for the sake of our revolution! Let every SACP branch and district convene as many of the red forums as possible during this month and beyond.