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Volume 10, No. 22, 2 November 2011

In this Issue:

Red Alert

Local Procurement for Job Creation: The revolutionary role and tasks of the working class

Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

The gathering momentum of our 2011 Red October Campaign

The South African Communist Party's (SACP) 2011 Red October Campaign is beginning to gain momentum in many of our districts and branches. A number of our provinces, districts and branches are convening Red Forums, to engage our communities around the key campaign themes of our Red October Campaign. The SACP has also declared the weekend of 12 and 13 November 2011 as a Red Weekend during which our branches and district structures will be engaging our communities around the key focus areas and themes of our Campaign. These include building people's education for, and through, people's power; building people's committees for rural development; building a solidarity economy through, amongst others, the intensification of a people's financial sector campaign; and intensification of the struggle against corruption. It is through these campaigns that we seek to mobilize and act together with the workers and the poor in our communities to change the lives of our people for the better, through our 2011 Red October slogan of ‘Building Working Class Power in our Communities'.

Last Sunday, our Gauteng Province convened a highly successful community meeting in Dobsonville, Soweto, to launch the Red October Campaign. This vibrant and engaging meeting was attended by about 2000 people, though completely boycotted (if not deliberately sidelined) by the mainstream media and the South African Broadcasting Corporation. We must of course congratulate the leadership and membership of our Party in Gauteng for convening such a meeting, engaging with our communities, and deepening Party work amongst the masses. The Soweto meeting was attended by, amongst others, our Party membership from Soweto and beyond, the leadership of SADTU, the YCL and COSAS, as well as representatives from local school governing bodies, as well as leaders and shop stewards from a number of COSATU affiliates.

Despite the noises from some of our detractors, some of whom calling themselves ‘communists' yet consistently attacking the SACP in the same way as the bourgeoisie and the new tendency in our movement, our Party work amongst the masses is continuing through the hard work of genuine communists. Some of these so-called communists, with a habit of googling endless quotations from Marxist revolutionaries, are hiding the fact that many of them are not doing even an iota of work inside the SACP and in its Party programmes. Yet it is indeed heartening that principled communists are on the ground, together with the workers and the poor, advancing the work of our Party in our communities through this Red October Campaign. We say to the workers and the poor of our country, including our SACP cadres, beware of the populist demagoguery and the new tendency, even if it is wearing red shirts!

Local procurement with and for the workers and the poor, through the organised muscle of the working class

In line with many of the principled issues we have raised for a considerable period now, the SACP wishes to warmly welcome the signing of the Local Procurement Accord by the social partners at NEDLAC on Monday this week, thus laying a strong foundation for job creation driven through the building of local manufacturing capacity. We applaud the leading role played by the Minister of Economic Development, Cde Ebrahim Patel, in bringing together all the social partners to sign this ground-breaking agreement.

The potentially progressive nature of this agreement lies in the following paragraphs as contained in the agreement:

"The parties to this Accord recognise the important role of local procurement in promoting jobs and industrialisation. The social partners aspire to achieve a 75% localisation in the procurement of goods and services, both by the public sector and by the private sector”.

"Business recognises the value of the localisation strategy that will underpin government's procurement and infrastructure investment programme. They commit accordingly to promote measures that will enhance the level of localisation in the private-sector supply-chains in accordance with the measures set out below.

"It is agreed to develop company-level procurement strategies in the different sectors of the economy, which will

  • Commit to improve the levels of local procurement
  • Analyse the company's supply-chain to identify imported goods and services, with a view to identifying economically viable local replacements;
  • Support the establishment and development of commercially viable local businesses to meet the company's requirements; and
  • Set company targets as well as ways to measure and monitor its procurement in order to achieve increased, sustainable levels of local procurement.”

Indeed these shall remain paper agreements, unless the working class, especially its organised component, energetically takes up this in concrete struggles to realize the goals contained in the agreement.

The SACP therefore calls upon the organised working class, in all their workplaces, to campaign for these commitments to be incorporated into all collective bargaining agreements so that these become a reality. It would indeed be of no use for the organised workers to lament failure of the implementation of these agreements, unless they hold employers to the full implementation of these agreements. We call upon all components of the labour movement to intensify the struggle for the concrete realization of these agreements! Let every collective bargaining agreement and across all sectors of our economy contain specific targets to achieve these objectives. The SACP pledges its full support, through solidarity struggles with organised workers, to secure these agreements and commitments by business! This requires intensified and concrete struggles, not lamentations and populist mobilization, but to ensure that workers are organised to struggle for the concrete realization of these objectives in their various workplaces and companies. The working class, from its own experiences, knows very well that unless the bosses are held accountable through the organised muscle of the workers, they will run away from any agreement whose intention is to address the needs of the overwhelming majority of our people. This is a terrain of struggle that should be energetically taken up by all our progressive trade unions.

Building upon past victories and advances, and intensifying the struggle against corruption

Enforcing local procurement for job creation must also seek to build upon previous announcements made by government. Earlier this year government made very important announcements on making government tendering processes more transparent, and providing reasons behind the winning tender bids. These new government commitments should be firmly incorporated into the entire strategy of local procurement.

It would be of no use to push for local procurement if at the same time we do not intensify the struggle against corruption. The local procurement accord must be built upon an intensified struggle against corruption, as local procurement for the benefit of tenderpreneurs and tender-brokers will defeat the entire purpose of this Accord.

The struggle to secure local procurement for job creation must also be accompanied by the intensification of the struggle to realize one of the key SACP's Red October Campaign objectives; that of the partial ‘de-tenderisation' of the state. The local procurement accord is also an important terrain for intensifying our Red October Campaign to ensure that not all government services and procurement for services, are packaged into tenders, but should also be delivered through alternative means that will benefit communities directly.

Through our 2011 Red October Campaign, the SACP calls for many government projects to be delivered through the Expanded Public and Community Works Programmes (eg building of roads, housing, schools feeding and maintenance, community infrastructrure, etc), so that these programmes become major job creators rather than a means for providing only short-term job opportunities.

The SACP will be using the 2011 Red October Campaign to call for significant ‘de-tenderisation' of many government services so that these can be offered through community initiatives and co-operatives as part of an effort towards genuine empowerment of our communities.

For the SACP all these initiatives are part of the struggle to roll back the capitalist market, to defeat the hold that tenderpreneurs have over some of the government tenders, and to lay the foundations for the struggle for socialism in our country. The partial de-tenderisation of the state is an important site of struggle to build working class power in both the state and our communities. It is absolutely essential that we break the cycle of the increasing mediation of the relationship between government and communities by 'the tender'.

Perhaps the most important lesson we need to learn out of all these struggles is the fact that as the capitalist crisis deepens, the more corrupt and greedy the system becomes. Capitalism is after all, by its very nature, a corrupt system, but the deeper it gets into multiple crises, the more corrupt it becomes, thus necessitating an intensified struggle against corruption as a critical terrain on which to fight the system itself.

The signing of this historic agreement on local procurement is therefore an important victory for the working class in the struggle for job creation, and is also a call to action to ensure that indeed this does happen!