Address by ANC NEC Member and Head of Policy, Cde Jeff Radebe, on the occasion of the 91st anniversary of the South African Communist Party – Johannesburg City Hall
5th August 2012
SACP General Secretary, Comrade Bonginkosi "Blade" Nzimande;
National Chairperson of the SACP, Comrade Senzeni Zokwana;
Members of the Central Executive Committee of the SACP;
ANC leadership present,
Comrades and friends;
First and foremost, let me join the majority of South Africans, the African continent and the world in wishing the South African Communist Party (SACP), our vanguard party, the revolutionary Party of socialism, a happy 91st Anniversary.
This glorious, revolutionary movement bred selfless and dedicated leadership such as J.B. Marks, Ray Alexander, Ruth First, Jack Simmons, Yusuf Dadoo, Bram Fischer, Moses Kotane, Moses Mabhida, Govan Mbeki, Harry Gwala, Chris Hani and Joe Slovo, amongst others.
The SACP anniversary comes at the time when the African National Congress (ANC) celebrates its year-long centenary throughout 2012. Consequently, the anniversary of the SACP forms an integral part of the celebrations of the centenary of the ANC.
The SACP was formed nine (9) years, after the birth of the ANC, thus making it one of the oldest liberation movements in the continent of Africa, following the ANC.
Contrary to the clairvoyant of kismet and the intrigues of imperialists across the world, the red flame of hope and a better life for all, is still burning and held high. This assertion is true of South Africa and the rest of the world today.
The anniversary of the SACP is important in the history of our country because very few organisations in history survive this long, having operated under extremely difficult repressive conditions.
On behalf of the leadership of the ANC and its membership, we congratulate the SACP on reaching this milestone.
This anniversary is also significant moment, not only for the Alliance but for the country as a whole, as an SACP anniversary celebration is part of the progressive history and heritage of our country.
It is a reminder of the successful and heroic struggles of our people for freedom, justice and human dignity.
Therefore, the anniversary has brought us together as the ANC, SACP and COSATU, to reflect on how far we have come in the struggle for the liberation of our people and country and that of liberating our people from the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality as analysed and reflected in the ANC Organisational renewal discussion document on the Second Phase of Transition with focus to economic and social emancipation.
As the ANC we emerged from the Policy Conference held in Midrand, reaffirming the character of the ANC as a disciplined force of the left, with a bias towards the poor and the working class. The ANC has been the voice of the poor and the marginalised and a parliament of the people since its inception in 1912.
As articulated by the Polokwane conference, the movement evolved over the years into a force for mass mobilisation, a glue that held our people together and a trusted leader of the broadest range of social forces that share the vision of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Since 1969, the ANC produced a Strategy and Tactics document as a guide and theoretical foundation for our national democratic revolution. In Strategy and Tactics 2012, we discussed in particular the notion of a Second Face of Transition to economic and social emancipation.
We move from the premise that in only two years we will conclude the second decade of freedom and have to start asking difficult questions about the present and the future.
The first 18 years have been characterised as the first transition of primarily a political nature given the priorities and the conditions at the time of the transition from apartheid and colonial oppression to a free and democratic society.
Having scored many achievements during the first 18 years, there is also widespread consensus that we have been unable to reach the goal of a truly prosperous, inclusive, non-racial and non-sexist society. The triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment persists, affecting Africans, women and the youth in particular.
We therefore called for a dramatic shift or giant leap, to economic and social transformation, so that we can be able to deal decisively with this triple challenge. The SACP and the Alliance in general remains relevant to this giant leap which the ANC is to undergo.
This 91st anniversary of the SACP also enables us to reflect on the role that the Communist Party played in strengthening the ANC, especially in the 1930’s and the 1940’s and also during other critical periods, such as the 1960s when the ANC was banned, and had to go underground.
The banning of the Party in 1950 provided valuable lessons to the ANC when it was also banned in 1960.
The SACP already had the experience of operating underground, which it shared with the ANC.
The adoption of the armed struggle during this period and the formation of uMkhonto we Sizwe was a joint collaborative effort between the ANC and the SACP as well as the leadership of the Congress Alliance.
Once MK was formed members and leaders of the SACP played an instrumental role in building it and showed much courage.
Today we also mark the historical fact that the SACP was the first truly non-racial Party or movement in South Africa.
So as the ANC we owe one of our most cherished and important principles and character of non-racialism to the Party.
As the ANC and the SACP, we are celebrating a very unique relationship, which described eloquently by Comrade Oliver Tambo on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the SACP when he said:
"The relationship between the ANC and the SACP is not an accident of history, nor is it a natural and inevitable development. For, as we can see, similar relationships have not emerged in the course of liberation struggles in other parts of Africa".
The SACP has played a key role in that struggle, in its 91 years.
On the 30th July 1921, key socialists, among them Bill Andrews, David Ivon Jones, S.P. Bunting and Colin Wade, established the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA).
The relationship between the SACP and the ANC was shaped by the 1924 resolution of the party which said; *"Party stresses the prime importance of mass organisation of labour... the problems of the working class can only be solved by a United Front of all workers irrespective of colour."*Lerumo, Fifty Fighting Years: (p 52).
This resolution was to pave the way for the SACP and the ANC to work together for many years to come. The party and the ANC have since then shared a strategic vision and a common perspective that has linked them together, the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution.
It indicates the resilience of the membership of the party, that this movement has survived difficult conditions of persecution, harassment, banning, arrests, exile and deaths in detention of leaders during the period of colonial repression and apartheid.
This is testimony to the spirit of selflessness and no surrender as well as the dedication of the scores of cadres of the party to the cause of freedom from all forms of oppression.
We are acknowledging the tried and tested Alliance between the ANC, SACP and COSATU.
In the history of struggles across the world there are very few such relationships forged out of common struggles.
It is an Alliance that our people look up to and trust, as they know it is the only formation that is capable of delivering them from poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Comrade Tambo described this Alliance very accurately. He said: *"Ours is not merely a paper alliance, created at conference tables and formalised through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leaders.
"Our alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle. We have built it out of our separate and common experiences".
We must today recommit to strengthening the Alliance even further, and to build the ANC, so that it can continue to play its role as the leader of the Alliance.
As we consolidate the gains of our freedom and democracy, we have to unite the Alliance more than ever before, in tribute to the memory of the gallant fighters who have emerged from the ranks of the party and the Alliance as a whole.
We have to unite the Alliance behind our existing programme of action, to deliver our people from poverty, unemployment and inequality, and to improve the quality of life of all, especially the working class and the poor.
We will continue to work side by side with the SACP in strengthening this historic Alliance which has done so much in advancing the National Democratic Revolution.
We will continue working with COSATU, to take forward the struggle against poverty, inequality and deprivation amongst our people.
On this important occasion, it is important to remember what the Communist Manifesto says:
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."
"Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes."
The 91st anniversary of the SACP takes place at a very interesting instant in our lifetime, with the SACP having grown from strength-to-strength, now recording a membership of over 160 000 members.
The ANC alliance with the SACP is a relationship cemented in the trenches of our struggle against Apartheid colonialism. It has manifested itself in its organisational form over the years in the practice of dual membership between the ANC and the SACP, with communists often being seen as amongst the most dedicated and committed in working to strengthen the liberation movement. This, and our ongoing engagements on the strategic and political challenges facing us, enhanced our cohesiveness as individual organisations, as well as a revolutionary alliance.
As espoused in the ANC Strategy and Tactics, the Tripartite Alliance is an organisational expression of the common purpose and unity in action that the ANC, the SACP and COSATU share, and continue jointly to define and redefine in the course of undertaking the tasks of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).
“This sense of unity, of common purpose, the depth of understanding of its historic mission, activism, loyalty to the people - especially the poor -international solidarity and joint action must continue to characterise relations within the Alliance, within the motive forces for change and within society at large. (EKURHULENI DECLARATION 2002)”
These formations are as important to transformation as they were to the heroic struggle against apartheid. It behoves the ANC to work among them and join with them both in sectoral and inter-sectoral campaigns, to realise the aims of the NDR.
However, since the ANC Mafikeng Conference, the relations between the ANC and its alliance partners, and with civil society broadly have not been satisfactory, impacting on our ability to unite our people in the common task of social transformation, particularly the relationship between the ANC and the SACP in most provinces of our country.
Notably, the efforts to foster the relationship between the SACP and the ANC is realised at the national level of leadership, at provincial and local level, more still needs to be done to foster and education our structures and members of the importance of this relationship. This is mostly evident by the contestations at these levels of our organisations.
The leadership of both the SACP and the ANC must ensure that these jalousies and contestations immediately seize. The SACP and the ANC cannot be seen contesting each other, or cannot be seen on the opposite side of the fence, rather they should be able to assist each other to achieve the NDR.
The ANC having benefited from the SACP and the SACP having benefited from the ANC; we in the ANC continue to regard the SACP as a reliable ally capable of analysing the challenges of today as well as producing theoretical clarity on how to tackle them. The SACP taught us to base our expectations on the following excerpt from Karl Marx`s Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte:
"proletarian revolutions, like those of the nineteenth century, constantly criticize themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew; they deride with cruel thoroughness the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever, recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals - until a situation is created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves call out: Hic Rhodus, hic salta! (here is the rose, here dance)"
In this regard we are confident that this 91st anniversary of the SACP will have eloquently answered the question: what is to be done? as it has always done attuned to the modus operandi of proletarian revolutions.
Comrades and friends, with these few words, Happy 91st Anniversary to the vanguard of the working class!
African National Congress