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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 10, No. 13, 15 June 2011

In this Issue:

Red Alert

SACP Central Committee Statement

The Central Committee of the SACP met in Johannesburg over the weekend of the 10-12th June. An analysis of the May 18th local government elections, an interaction on challenges within the youth sector (in which we were joined by the national executive committee of the Young Communist League), further consolidation of the SACP`s perspectives on government`s New Growth Path framework document, and preparations for the commemoration of the SACP`s 90th anniversary were among the main items under discussion. The CC suspended deliberations for most of Saturday to enable CC members to join thousands of other South Africans at the funeral of our beloved leader, cde Albertina Sisulu. Cde Albertina was the second recipient (after cde Madiba) of the SACP`s Chris Hani Peace Award. Hamba kahle, Mama Sisulu! May we never forget your inspiring example of courageous, militant and unassuming service to the people of South Africa you passed on with your dignity and integrity intact.

May 18th Local Government elections

The SACP was an active partner in the ANC`s local government election campaign from the outset with the development of the election manifesto, through the candidate selection process, and into mass mobilization and door-to-door work. The CC saluted the role played by our tens of thousands of activists in the campaign. The CC also congratulated the many communist militants who, in their capacity as ANC members and leaders, have been elected as councilors. In particular, the CC congratulated CC member, cde Zukiswa Ncitha who has been elected mayor of the new Buffalo City Metro, and KZN SACP chairperson, cde James Nxumalo, elected as mayor of the eThekwini metro. These positive developments which bring added responsibilities to the Party and its members are in line with our medium term vision of seeking to build progressive influence and working class hegemony in all sites of struggle. The SACP calls on all ANC councilors not to take the electorate for granted and to ensure that with our support we rise to the expectations expressed in the campaign.

The CC agreed that with 63% of the vote the ANC together with its alliance partners had, once more, received an overwhelming electoral mandate. The CC further noted that this significant electoral victory was achieved in challenging circumstances in the midst of the local aftershocks of the global economic crisis, and in the context of many challenges in the local government sphere. In many other countries, from the US to Spain, previously incumbent political parties have suffered massive electoral defeats in the midst of the economic crisis. The ANC-alliance`s sustained performance and continued overwhelming majority support from our core constituencies is, therefore, particularly noteworthy.

However, the ANC-alliance would also be seriously mistaken if we did not take note of many warning lights from this election campaign. There was, for a local election, an exceptional voter turnout. Some of this was attributable to the DA`s ability to turn out a very high level of support in so-called "minority", and particularly white areas. But the high turnout was also a popular response from our mass base in provinces and municipalities where the working class and poor sensed that their organizations and their struggle were under threat from an axis of anti-majoritarian forces that included the major media houses, right-wing NGOs like Afriforum, and the DA. But in other provinces and municipalities there was a noticeable decline in ANC voter turnout, which is in part an indication of frustration with corruption and ineffective ANC performance in some municipalities.

The SACP welcomed the innovative ANC candidate selection process that involved active community participation. Amongst other things, this approach to candidate selection sought to bring popular power to bear in the struggle against organizational gate-keeping, tenderpreneurship, and money-politics. In some cases, regional gate-keepers and money politics still managed to either side-step or hijack the community participation process provoking some of the current popular anger but, overwhelmingly, community participation proved to be a very positive process. The SACP will be strongly supporting this approach for future elections, while learning lessons and adapting where needed.

The CC noted the many subjective and objective problems in the local government sphere. Much criticism of local government focuses, often correctly, on subjective weaknesses inappropriate deployments, corruption, tenderpreneurship, etc. However, we need also to look at the objective challenges in the current model of local government and the impossible challenges with which many local governments are confronted. The SACP supports the overall thrust of the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill that has passed through both houses in parliament and now awaits presidential proclamation. We also support turnaround proposals from the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department . Amongst other things, we support the measure that office bearers (not members) of political parties should not occupy senior administrative posts in local government; and the need for a more clearly defined separation between the roles of elected councilors and administrators. The SACP strongly supports the critical need to strengthen popular participatory involvement in local government through, amongst other things, ward committees. These measures are not just legalistic and institutional responses to challenges. They are aimed at professionalizing and greatly improving the efficiency and effectiveness of local government. They will also help to strike at the heart of areas in which corruption and tenderpreneurship have often proliferated. Other critical areas that require attention include the funding model for local government, and the key role of district municipalities in rural development.

Right-wing demagogy within the ranks of the broader movement the greatest threat to the national democratic revolution

There are many lessons that need to be derived from the May 18th election campaign but the greatest of all is that factionalism led by a dangerous right-wing demagogy within our broader movement is costing us dearly. This demagogy constitutes the greatest threat, not just to our electoral performance, but also to our hard-won democratic achievements as a country in general.

We are dealing with an anti-worker, anti-left, anti-communist, pseudo-militant demagogy that betrays all of our long-held ANC-alliance traditions of internal organizational democracy, mutual respect for comrades, non-racialism, and service to our people. It has created substantial space for an anti-majoritarian, conservative reactive groundswell that seeks to tarnish the whole movement, portraying us all as anti-constitutionalist and as narrow nationalist chauvinists.

The SACP calls on our Alliance partners to unite, to close ranks and to deal decisively with this grave threat. Closing ranks does not mean that various other debates and differences amongst us should be suppressed but it does mean that within and across our Alliance we must not open up a dozen fronts of fractious public dispute, as if all differences and debates were of equal significance.

So how do we unite to confront the demagogic challenge? There is one fundamental response across the Alliance we need to take up with renewed vigour the programme of action that we have agreed upon at the ANC`s 2007 Polokwane conference and in subsequent Alliance summits. The programme of action embraces five key pillars jobs, education and training, health, rural development and the fight against crime and corruption. It is a programme of action that must combine the determined exercise of state power and active mobilization of popular forces.

In the midst of media-supported diversions we often lose sight of very important gains made in these key areas of transformation. Popular mobilization and a change in government policy have seen, for instance, a very significant reduction of mother-to-child HIV/Aids transmission saving an estimated 67,000 children. There have been important gains in funding students through a reinvigorated mandate for NSFAS. National Treasury has announced very important corruption-busting measures that name and shame fronting and other tenderpreneuring activities and prevent those involved in doing business with government. All of these measures have been won as a result of popular struggles and a more determined and strategic use of state power.

But these advances must be replicated across the board, and particularly in areas of burning concern notably the crisis of unemployment (especially youth unemployment) and rural development including the critical questions of accelerated land reform and sustainable rural livelihoods. The CC supports the Department of Land Affairs and Rural Development`s intention to bring to cabinet the proposal of reopening the land restitution program. The SACP has resolved to pursue our cooperatives campaign linking this much more actively to prescribed state procurement policies. The SACP will also be closely studying the important Indian rural work-guarantee programme, we believe it has important potential application to SA when addressing rural development and youth unemployment.

The crisis in Swaziland

The deepening economic and social crisis in Swaziland in the midst of a ruling elite`s squandering of resources, underlines the importance of increased pressure to ensure that this backward feudal dispensation is finally democratized. The CC noted and welcomed the recent launch of a Swaziland Communist Party which is already making an important impact in strengthening the broader democratic movement.

Forward to the 90th anniversary of the SACP!

The end of July marks the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party in South Africa. In the course of nine decades, the Communist Party has made an indelible contribution to the South African struggle and to our new democratic dispensation. The Communist Party was the first, and for many decades the only, political party in SA that not only aspired to a non-racial future, but had an active membership of black and white comrades shoulder-to-shoulder in struggle. The Communist Party pioneered militant trade unionism, and progressive journalism in SA. As many generations of outstanding ANC leaders, among them cde Nelson Mandela, have acknowledged, the Party has also made an outstanding contribution to consolidating and defending a mass-based and campaigning ANC.

The 90th anniversary celebrations will be launched on the 3rd July in Bushbuckridge, in Mpumalanga, with many Red Forums and other activities in all provinces, culminating in a main rally on 31 July at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium, Clermont in KZN.

Issued by the SACP

Contact:
Malesela Maleka
SACP Spokesperson - 082 226 1802

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