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SACP Central Committee statement

26 February 2012

The SACP Central Committee (CC), meeting from 24 to 26 February, reviewed the past five years as part of our preparations for our 13th National Congress to be held in July this year.

The CC noted and appreciated the continuing steady growth of the SACP, whose membership is now approaching 150 000 members. We shall indeed be holding our 13th Congress in July as a much stronger, larger and influential SACP.

The CC concluded that while major challenges persist, significant advances have been made over the past five years. Among the advances noted were:

1. A significant policy shift, by both the ANC and government, away from notions of a minimalist state, whose role was to create conditions for lowering the cost of doing business for business, to more state intervention in the economy.

2. The progressive resolutions of the ANC 2007 Polokwane Conference, which incorporated many of the policy positions that we had been advancing for close to a decade before then.

3. The vastly improved cooperative style of the ANC leadership.

4. The significance of our 2009 Special National Congress in laying the foundations for exposing the new tendency and forging a broader understanding of the dangers of this new tendency to our movement and the national democratic revolution as a whole.

5. The growing appreciation of the role of the state in leading the development of our country.

6. Important policy breakthroughs – including the focus on five priorities, with education as an apex priority; commitment to the creation of a National Health Insurance Scheme; adoption of a New Growth Path and active industrial policy (signaling more determination to move our economy away from its current colonial growth path); the establishment of a National Planning Commission; commitment to a review of some key aspects of Black Economic Empowerment, including tackling the scourge of fronting; and a renewed emphasis on infrastructure investment.

7. A commitment to move away from the "willing buyer willing seller" model of land reform, a key SACP demand for over 8 years now.

8. Our Party’s significant contribution and leadership in highlighting the dangers of corruption and exposing its class basis.

Of course, these advances are contested and challenges persist, including the persisting stubborn structural problems like unemployment, poverty and inequality. But these policy and organizational breakthroughs have a huge potential to roll-back the neo-liberal agenda and deepen the national democratic revolution. The task of all genuine cadres and our Alliance is to mobilize the working class and all progressive forces to ensure that these breakthroughs are translated into concrete transformational advances.

Support for Infrastructure Development Programme

The CC welcomed the President’s State of Nation Address, noting in particular its strong commitment to a state-led, multi-year infrastructure programme. In this regard, and following also on the input received from Minister Ebrahim Patel on the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission’s (PICC) work, the SACP expressed strong support both for the general thrust and the particular catalytic strategic projects envisaged in the programme. These developments mark the consolidation of a relatively new strategic posture of the state, aligned to placing our economy onto a new, more labour-intensive growth path, that has the potential of moving us away from the colonial character of our growth path.

However, vigilance and strategic determination will be required. In the first place, it will be important that the radical transformational objectives of the PICC’s programme are safeguarded. It is an infrastructure programme designed to enhance a more balanced development of our country and region, by maintaining growth in current key industrial centres, while at the same time ensuring strong linkages to provincial, rural, and peri-urban areas suffering from severe under-development. We need to ensure that infrastructure projects are not cherry-picked for the most profitable or tender-driven, projects only.

The multi-billion rand infrastructure programme must be a key catalyst for overcoming the duality in our countryside (between former Bantustan and commercial farming areas) and in our urban areas (between suburbs and displaced working class settlements in peri-urban dormitory townships and informal settlements). We need infrastructure that begins to overcome these dualities. Likewise, we need to ensure that the infrastructure build programme is strongly aligned to our industrial policy and mineral beneficiation objectives. While improving the efficiencies of our export and import freight corridors is important, this time around we cannot just perpetuate the old colonial, pit-to-port, infrastructure system narrowly anchored around the export of unbeneficiated bulk commodities.

We are aware of the potential for corruption in the roll-out of this massive infrastructure programme, especially through ‘tenderpreneurs’ who also seek to capture our movement primarily to advance their narrow accumulation interests. All of us need to be vigilant about this.

The CC recognized the capacity challenges in implementing the infrastructure programme, and called for a massive all-round effort to address this. Managed properly, the programme can contribute significantly to strengthening and transforming the state.

The CC recognized the financial challenges that the infrastructure programme poses, and welcomed the multi-pronged approach of the PICC in addressing this. The CC stressed the need to harness resources in all spheres for the infrastructure programme, including workers’ retirement funds that should be directed to our developmental goals and the transformation of the economy. The CC committed the SACP to intensifying our Financial Sector Campaign as part of the efforts to harness resources for the infrastructure programme.

The CC recognized that for the infrastructure programme to be effectively implemented, the ANC-led Alliance has to be far more united, cohesive and focused. We also need to mobilize the masses behind the programme.

Concerns about the e-Tolling System

There are hard lessons we need to draw from recent experience of major infrastructure programmes. The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) is a case in point. The CC noted and appreciated cabinet’s announcement of a further reduction of tariffs on the e-tolling system (down to 30c per kilometer for light vehicles and with a R550 monthly cap). These measures, together with the re-affirmed commitment to zero-rate taxis and buses, and the R5,75bn once-off contribution from the fiscus will go some way to alleviating the burden on users of the system. However, the substantive issue in the view of the SACP is not the e-tolling costs, important as these may be, or even a debate around the merits or otherwise of road-tolling.

The real question we need to ask is how did we come to spend R20bn on freeway expansions, on a network that is barely used by public transport vehicles, and in a province in which some 60% of households have no access whatsoever to a car? What needs to be scrutinized retrospectively (so that we don’t repeat similar mistakes going forward) is the role of provincial political interests in championing the early planning and implementation of this costly project for infrastructure that will be used overwhelmingly by the relatively wealthy. It was, essentially, the same provincial political interests that championed the R27 billion Gautrain project.

The recent strike of drivers of the Gautrain feeder buses had its origins in the fact that they were experiencing immense difficulties in getting to work for the early shift, and getting home from the late shift. The route of the Gautrain meticulously avoids all of the major high density areas of settlement in which the working class is located in Gauteng. Many of the shuttle-bus drivers, servicing this elite multi-billion rand transport project that boasts of the speed at which it transports commuters between Pretoria and Sandton, have to spend hours at the crack of dawn or late at night hitch-hiking to get to and from work. The SACP wishes to express its solidarity with these bus drivers and calls on empoyers to engage and address their legitimate grievances. The SACP calls for decent, affordable, and accessible public transport for all – prioritizing those who most need it.

The CC also condemned the hypocrisy of the DA which attacks e-Tolling in Gauteng, but introduces it in Chapman’s Peak in Cape Town!

The CC expressed its concern about the lack of adequate consultation on the entire project from the very beginning, and called for a full investigation into it so that we can learn lessons and avoid similar occurrences in the future. The CC also called for far more consultation on the tolling generally as from now onwards. The SACP will engage with the Minister of Transport and within the Tripartite Alliance on matters relating to the funding of public transport infrastructure, and infrastructure in general.

Further Engagement with Report on State Intervention in Minerals Sector

The CC received an input from Dr Paul Jourdan on the ANC-commissioned report on "State Intervention in the Minerals Sector". The CC welcomed the emphasis of the report on a more active role of the state in the mining sector, and supported the proposal for a resource rent tax on mining. The CC also stressed the need for the government to use the progressive legislation passed on mining to ensure greater beneficiation and the mining concession regime to ensure mining contributes more to industrial development and job-creation. The report will be discussed thoroughly in the ranks of the SACP in the run-up to our 13th National Congress and the ANC’s Policy and National Conferences. The CC re-affirmed its commitment to the socialization of the mining industry and ownership of the means of production by the people as a whole.

Need to Engage with the Green Paper on Post-School Education and Training

The commitment to roll-out a massive infrastructure development programme reinforces the need for a major skills development drive in our country. The CC received a briefing from the Department of Higher Education and Training on the Green Paper on Post-School Education and Training. The CC supported the Green Paper’s commitment to creating a more cohesive and integrated post-school education and training system. The CC called upon the FETs and universities to transform more effectively and actively contribute to the country’s developmental agenda. The CC noted the 31 March deadline for comments on the Green Paper and urged all our structures and other stakeholders to participate in the process.

Support for Labour Struggles

The CC expressed its full solidarity with the workers of Implats and condemned the bosses for dividing workers, including through the unilateral increase the wages of some workers and not others outside of the bargaining process. The CC welcomed the decision of Implats to reinstate the workers and called on the workers to return to work as negotiated by the National Union of Mineworkers. We wish to commend the leadership role played by the NUM on this matter, and the SACP commits to support the NUM and the workers in all its struggles.

The CC reiterated its position that labour-broking is extremely exploitative, and welcomed the President’s view that the disputes on this be resolved soon. The CC expressed its support for COSATU’s national strike of 7th March on the issue of labour brokers.

The CC congratulated the NEHAWU, POPCRU, NUMSA and CEPPAWU for successfully hosting the Presidential Council of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). The SACP calls on other unions to consider joining the WFTU as it has been a historical ally of the progressive trade union movement in this country and has been consistently opposed to capitalism.

Challenges in the Middle East

The CC noted with concern the manner in which our local commercial media has simply been parroting uncritically the US and European version of the tragedy unfolding in Syria. While there are undoubtedly serious shortcomings in the Assad administration, we should bear in mind that in an ethnically and religiously diverse society, it has consistently upheld inclusive, secular principles. It has also been consistent in its anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist positions – and this is its true "crime".

Even a cursory following of the Western media reports on Syria reveals the internal hypocrisy of their position. On the one hand we are told that government forces are gunning down unarmed civilians, while on the other hand the very same media outlets glorify the deeds of the so-called Syrian "liberation" fighters who openly display their heavy calibre weaponry, including tanks, and who boast of killing soldiers and police. What we have in Syria is a fully-fledged civil war, in which the opposition militia are being armed, trained and directed by outside forces, including conservative Arab states, and the US and France in particular. The genuine democratic opposition within Syria has distanced itself fully from the militarization of the struggle.

Emboldened by their brutal "success" in Libya, and by their ability to stale-mate the democratization process in Egypt, imperialist forces are bent on reversing the real democratic possibilities inherent in the Arab Spring. If the US and its allies were really genuine about democracy in the Arab world, they would begin by applying pressure on their trusted ally, the brutal and venal feudal autocracy in Saudi Arabia. The real medium-term target of the current imperialist-inspired destabilization of the region is Iran – with its massive oil reserves.

Need to Consolidate Unity Within the Alliance

In assessing the state of our alliance, the CC noted with appreciation the continued consolidation of unity across our movement. The consolidation of this unity has been greatly advanced by the preparedness of the ANC national leadership to deal much more decisively than in the recent past with undisciplined, demagogic forces within its ranks. The ANC national leadership has clearly signaled that chronic, persistent ill-discipline and factionalism will not be allowed – and we cannot agree more.

The CC also condemned the behavior of some sections of the youth who tried to disrupt the ANC meeting held as part of the 100th Centenary campaign in Cape Town on 23 February. Such behavior reflects badly not just on the ANC and the movement, but the country as a whole.

The CC expressed its full support to the SACP in Limpopo in its consistent campaign against corruption in the province, and called on our structures there to consolidate the unity of the Alliance and the people as a whole in taking the campaign further.

The CC also called on worker leaders to serve in ANC executive structures at all levels rather than to be simply critics on the outside. The SACP has long argued that the programmatically proclaimed worker-bias of the ANC has to be consolidated not just in words, but in practice through active engagement within the structures of the ANC itself.

Good Wishes to Nelson Mandela

The CC noted that our beloved Madiba is in hospital and expressed its very good wishes to him for a speedy recovery. Together with the rest of the country we continue to be inspired by him, and we, once again, call on comrades in the movement and people more generally in this country to increasingly internalize the values he represents.

The CC also conveyed its good wishes to President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela in dealing with his health challenges.

All Systems go for SACP 13th National Congress

The CC expressed its satisfaction with progress on the preparations for our 13th National Congress to be held from 11 to 15 July this year at the University of Zululand . About 3000 delegates representing a membership of about 150 000 organised in over 2500 branches will attend. Draft policy papers will be released in May.

Need for More Activism All-Round

The CC, once again, congratulated the ANC on its centenary year, and committed the SACP to fully participate in the activities being rolled out to commemorate this. We noted the important ANC Policy and National Conferences and COSATU National Congress being held this year, and conveyed our good wishes for their success.

The CC concluded by observing that despite the current challenging economic climate, there is huge potential to develop and transform the country, especially with the more active role of the state in leading development, through the New Growth Path, the draft National Development Plan, and the infrastructure development programme.

To consolidate the advances made and to effectively tackle the challenges ahead, we need much greater unity of purpose and focus within the Alliance, government and the country as a whole. The CC committed the SACP to playing its full role, and urged all other organisations and the people generally to do so.

Issued by the SACP Central Committee

Malesela Maleka
SACP Spokesperson – 082 226 1802