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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 13, No. 41, 2 October 2014

In this Issue:

   

Red Alert

SACP statement at SADTU National Congress delivered by General Secretary, Comrade Blade Nzimande

2 October 2014

National Office Bearers and leaders of SADTU from all levels present here today;
Alliance leaders present here today;
Distinguished delegates;
Esteemed guests;

Dear Comrades,

Allow me for and on behalf of our Central Committee, to convey revolutionary greetings from the South African Communist Party. We would like to thank you for your invitation to share our perspectives with you here today, on behalf of the entire membership of our Party, guided by the theme of your Congress:

`Restore the character of SADTU as a union of revolutionary professionals, agents of change and champions of people’s education for people’s power in pursuit of socialism!

Dear comrades,

In the last 20 years of our democracy we have achieved major, and indeed radical transformations and redistributive advances.

We dislodged the apartheid regime, through the 1994 democratic breakthrough; we laid down the foundations for the development of democracy, and the pursuit of economic and social transformation towards the achievement of the goals of the Freedom Charter. To us as the SACP, and indeed to the entire revolutionary working class movement, the successful completion of this process of struggle must necessarily produce and lay the indispensable basis for an advance to socialism.

This is why we believe that the National Democratic Revolution is the shortest, direct and most suited road to socialism in the historical context and the specific conditions of our country. As the SACP we believe that by advancing, deepening, intensifying and defending the struggle for socialism, in the here and now, by systematically building its elements, momentum and capacity for it, we are reinforcing and propelling the National Democratic Revolution in the forward march to its logical, i.e. revolutionary, conclusion.

We are now 20 years into this journey, and our immediate task is to eliminate the centuries and decades old damage caused by colonial conquests, apartheid and imperialist exploitation; deepen democratic and advance social and economic transformation; and raise the levels of the quality of life of all our people, the majority of whom are the workers and the poor.

The National Democratic Revolution requires us to complete the liberation of Africans in particular and Black people in general from all the imbalances of the past, the chains and legacy of class exploitation, national oppression, and emancipate women from patriarchy. All of those who enjoyed White supremacist domination, and still react negatively towards the building of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist South Africa with prosperity for all, must also be liberated from all forms of that racist false-consciousness.

Since the early 1990s, our transition has tended to focus towards the political and juridical terrain. This had as its critical moments: (1) the 1991-1994 multi-party negotiations that finally compelled agreement through mass mobilisation and emphasised that a future constitution could only be drawn up by a democratically elected Constituent Assembly; (2) the 1994 democratic electoral breakthrough itself; (3) and the consequent 1996 adoption of a new constitution. Through these processes we consolidated a wide-range of laws, democratic institutions, and the de-racialisation of the administrative apparatus of the state. This, constituting the core, but not the only, element of our first phase of transition, was itself radical - we abolished white minority rule, i.e. politically, juridically and constitutionally.

Despite the many challenges that our revolution faced, this first phase of our transition also served as a platform on which a massive socio-economic redistributive programme was launched. Our achievements notably include:

  • More than 16 million (nearly one-third of all South Africans) are now benefiting from a range of social grants - up from 3 million in 1994.
  • Over 7 million new household electricity connections have been made since 1996 - in the preceding century, successive white minority regimes only electrified 5 million households on the basis of racist discrimination!
  • Over 3.3 million free houses have been built, benefiting more than 16 million people.
  • More than 1.4 million students have benefited from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme in both public colleges and universities.
  • Over 9 million learners in 20 000 schools receive daily meals
  • Over 400 000 solar water heaters have been installed free on the rooftops of poor households in the past 5 years - one of the largest such programmes in the world.

There are many other major redistributive achievements in sanitation and water connections, in adult basic education, in Grade R school enrolment, in rolling out antiretroviral HIV treatment, and much more.

However, despite the advances we have achieved in the first phase of our transition, and in many respects internationally unparalleled effort, we are faced with a stubborn persistence of crisis levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment, and, in class terms, the capitalist class has benefitted more economically. There is more work that indeed needs to be done to take our revolution forward, and to defend it. These two tasks are equally important. Without one the other will not succeed.

In summary:

The first phase of our revolution marked a radical politico-juridical break with the past. The achievements of this first phase need to be continuously advanced, deepened and defended. However, the redistributive emphasis of this first phase was insufficiently complemented by, or integrated into, a radical programme of transformation of our productive economy and the systemic social, economic and spatial features that support its colonially dependent growth path. These are the features that continue to reproduce crisis levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty. This crisis is rooted primarily in the untransformed character of our productive economy, which is characterised, among other defining features, by:

  • High levels of private monopoly concentration, the domination of an increasingly financialised mineral-energy-finance complex that reproduces a weak manufacturing and SME sector; and
  • Our economy’s subordinate location in the global imperialist value chain still as a producer of un-beneficiated mineral resources.
In addition, the emphasis on a top-down, state "delivery" of redistribution has effectively demobilised the key popular bloc of forces, and has tended to re-route energies into individualistic advancement, factionalism, or anti-government protest. Some of these tendencies are manifested in the challenges facing unity and cohesion in the progressive trade union movement as led by COSATU.

What is the way forward?

Let us advance the second, more radical phase of our transition!

The second, more radical phase of our transition must deepen the struggle for a democratic non-racial society; the struggle for a democratic national sovereignty - in other words the struggle to overcome our country’s semi-peripheral economic subordination within the global economy, and the struggle for nation building - and in particular the struggle to forge the social and economic material conditions for national unity - which means the elimination of both the internal and external interacting dimensions of the legacy of Colonialism of a Special Type.

This would require us to transform and expand production by industrialising our economy through diversified manufacturing and by moving up the global value chain through increased participation in high value added activities. In this way we will be able to create the much needed jobs, reduce unemployment and poverty, and enhance capacity for economic and social transformation, as well as for an inclusive, new growth path.

The industrialisation programme must be based on a state-led industrial policy programme and with beneficiation of our mineral resources being a key pillar, building on the platform of what remains our strategic advantages; state local procurement policies are another key leverage. This programme would require a decisive implementation of the major state-led strategic infrastructure programme. As the Alliance we have agreed to the key elements of this programme in the ANC’s Manifesto for the Fifth General Election. These were further streamlined in the State of the Nation Address, by President Jacob Zuma, following our decisive victory, and include an energy mix as elaborated in the Manifesto.

In order to support industrialisation, the key manufactured inputs for infrastructure, including energy, must be manufactured locally. And, in order to support our strategic objective to transform the basic structure of production in our economy, we must use the infrastructure build programme to radically transform the core-periphery, internal-external dimensions of the legacy of colonialism, apartheid imperialism.

We must transform the mining sector, beneficiate our mineral resources and breakaway with the excessive pit-to-port, export configuration of our basic structure of production. The SACP reiterates its call for a Multi-Stakeholder Mining Indaba on the transformation of the mining sector and its alignment with our national development objectives for broader economic and social transformation.

We must also break the collusive conduct and market power of private monopoly capital through a range of regulatory and other interventions, and develop SMEs and Co-operatives around the industrialisation process.

The second, more radical phase of our transition would require that we transform our education and training system, including curriculum.

Education and training must be aligned with, and support, our developmental imperatives and objective to develop, expand and diversify production, as well as the entire vision of the Freedom Charter. This must contribute in guiding our strategic goal to transform ownership and control in the economy, to empower the people as a whole, as opposed to a narrow BEE which only benefits a few.

We also need to make inroads into the de-commodification of productive work. This requires a range of sustainable livelihood strategies, and, in particular, through the massification and qualitative improvement in the useful impact of public employment programmes such as the EPWP and CWP. This must be guided by the strategic objective of progressively rolling out a universal work guarantee scheme for the unemployed and under-employed.

A strategic approach to food security and food sovereignty - focussing on breaking the market domination of agricultural, agro-processing and food retail monopolies which are increasingly financialised and transnationalised, is required. We need more effective regulation, through re-building public sector support to farming, especially medium and small-scale mixed farming. This requires research, veterinary services, market support, localised storage and processing facilities, appropriate infrastructure, etc. It is critical to align land reform programmes to a sustainable productive perspective.

Further critical to all of this is the consolidation of a democratic developmental state.

Buttressed by popular people’s power and constant mobilisation, with the working class as the main motive force, this means a state with strategic discipline and capacity - the key requirement to lead a second radical phase of the National Democratic Revolution.

The biggest threats to the consolidation of a democratic developmental state are the inter-related challenges of fragmentation, bureaucratic inertia, the loss of professional and technical capacity, corporate capture, corruption, and the loss of a public service morality. All of these negative forces must be combated!

As a progressive trade union based in the public service, SADTU has a critical role to play in this programme - and NOT only in basic education. The union must intensify the link between workplace and community struggles. It must encourage its members to be active in our Alliance and Mass Democratic Movement formations.

Being in a position of strategic advantage as teachers, SADTU members can play a vital role through activist involvement and by enhancing our capacity for political education in our liberation movement. This would require, as Karl Marx once put it, that the educators be educated themselves. In this instance the educators must be steeled in the revolutionary theory of our struggle.

All of these strategic objectives considered, if we are to succeed:

We must rollback neoliberalism and transform the financial sector to serve the people!

We must continue our struggle to roll back the neoliberal content of our macrocosmic policy. Through liberalisation, deregulation and other neoliberal measures, the content of this policy contributed in the de-industrialisation that our economy has suffered. This dates back to the last years of apartheid, during which the privatisation of some of the important assets of the state such as SASOL and Iscor was implemented. The 1996 Class Project’s GEAR policy worsened the process of de-industrialisation.

The SACP supports the last Alliance Summit declaration in this and other respects, particularly the resolution to review the National Development Plan based on the genuine concerns expressed both by the Party and COSATU at that Summit. We will participate in the Task Team that has been set up in terms of the declaration.

Transforming the financial sector to serve the people would require a strategic focus on, and re-orientation of, our Development Finance Institutions whose mandates must be re-engineered. This programme must include a further, decisive focus on industrial investment, prescribed assets, trade union investment funds, and greater working class strategic control over retirement funds.

We must, as we do so, also pay attention on the possible influence and corrupting effect of business unionism within the ranks of the trade union movement in being unable to decisively take up issues on the developmental use of union investment and workers retirement funds. Business unionism is actually one of the major causes and drivers of the problems facing the trade union movement today. It must be decisively tackled in all its aspects.

We must resolve the problems of exorbitant bank charges, and irrational interest rates. This must support investment in productive activity and social transformation.

We must eliminate the dichotomy of higher interest rates on credit and loans benefitting the banks but less or nearly nothing, if anything at all, for consumers from their savings and investments with such institutions.

We must bring to an end the high cost of communication imposed mainly by the major cell phone and broadband companies on our people.

The problems of housing evictions must be dealt with a decisive blow.

Private monopoly and dominance must be finished off - currently, the financial sector in our country is dominated by a handful of players who abuse their position. The sector must diversify. This must include socialised forms of ownership and control, such as, and most importantly, co-operatives and public ownership through the state. We must move decisively in repositioning the Post Bank and leveraging the capacity of the state to support its development as a fully-fledged bank. But unlike the mainstream commercial banks which are only interested in profiteering, the Post Bank must be imbued with a socially developmental mandate.

These are some of, i.e. not all, the measures that the SACP is taking forward in its Financial Sector Campaign which is the focus of our Red October Campaign for 2014-2015.

The campaign also seeks to uproot the crisis-causing problems of unsecured and reckless lending practices, as we have seen with the ongoing global capitalist crisis that first erupted in the USA. It is these same practices that have produced the implosion of African Bank, followed by the hard-core, neoliberal "global" ratings agency, Moody’s downgrading all other South African Banks.

The SACP has never regarded the views of ratings agencies as anything other than self-interested advice to speculators. Moody’s downgrading of other South African banks in the aftermath of the demise of African Bank had little to do with its disapproval of speculative activity preying upon the poor, and everything to do with its disappointment that the Reserve Bank’s partial bail out and restructuring of African Bank was not loaded entirely onto the South African tax-payer, with major African Bank investors being forced to take a 10% "haircut".

As exposed by this downgrading, neoliberalism advocates for the state not to intervene in the economy - but by this it is meant NO intervention for the working class and the poor; in contrast, essentially neoliberalism wants the state that heavily intervenes in the economy on behalf of the capitalist class and the rich. As the working class movement we must confront this head-on if we are to safeguard our democracy and ultimately achieve a better life for all.

Nevertheless, whatever Moody’s reasoning, the fact is that the downgrade had its origins in the reckless promotion of unaffordable lending to working people and the poor. The involvement in one way or another of so-called reputable banks (and retailers) in these practices, has now emerged as a major threat to the reputation and credit-worthiness of the country. Those commentators who have grown accustomed to blaming the struggles of the working class for negative credit ratings must surely now be obliged to acknowledge the role of speculative profit-seeking by financial institutions.

The problem runs deeper than just the conventional financial institutions. The symbiotic relationship between African Bank and Ellerines underlines the degree to which wide swathes of our economy have become financialised. Increasingly, major retailers in basic consumer lines like furniture, clothing and food are gouging their profits not so much from what they sell as from punitive interest on credit advanced.

Our struggle to transform the financial sector must deal with the problem and consequences of financialisation.

Dear Comrades,

Without discipline, unity and cohesion in each one of our organisations, and in the entire progressive and revolutionary movement, let alone our struggle to transform the financial sector, our second, more radical phase of transition, will not succeed.

Let us defend the unity of all progressive and revolutionary forces of change!

Let us defend the unity of SADTU and the unity of COSATU!

As the SACP we support the measures underway in our Alliance to defend the unity of COSATU from disunity, fragmentation and a devastating disaster.

The SACP says:

`Workers of the World, Unite!

Any behaviour to the contrary will only serve the interest of the enemies and opponents of our revolution, the exploiters of the workers, and is therefore counter-revolutionary! This is what the wedge drivers in the ultimate analysis are serving, now on a full time basis.

Through their unity and cohesion, workers have nothing to lose, but their chains!

The trade union movement in South Africa is, as a counterrevolutionary onslaught, facing an agenda to divide workers and the political organisation of the broader working class. This agenda seeks to fragment the movement and sow separatism which and it increasingly reacts negatively against our Alliance. Progressives and revolutionaries have no option but to defend the unity of the workers and to develop it further to become a formidable force for change.

Dear Comrades,

Ten years ago, on 9 October 2003, COSATU emerged from its 8th National Congress with a programme titled `Consolidating Working Class Power for Quality Jobs - Towards 2015’. This became known as the 2015 Plan of the federation. The programme, which is more relevant than ever before, committed COSATU to the following:

  1. Systematic and rigorous implementation of an organisation building programme, ensuring the recruitment of over four million members , by the 10th National Congress in 2009, with a united working class and depth of organisation and militancy.
  2. Defending our political gains and space, in this regard the need for strong ANC and SACP, rather than weakened Alliance partners.
  3. Deepening work to establish socialist forums as a platform where debates on all major challenges facing the working class take place and at the same time playing a major role in delivering membership education and deepening the political consciousness of the working class on the ground.
  4. A large pool of cadres with organisational, political and ideological depth.
  5. Working class leadership of the National Democratic Revolution, including in the ANC and key organs of people’s power.
  6. Stronger civil society, especially community-based organisations, and stronger involvement of locals in local government and mobilisation.
  7. A stronger role for the working class and black women in the public discourse, challenging the hegemony of capital on a larger scale.
  8. Clear measures to reverse rising unemployment, poverty and inequality, ensuring that the share of the working class in national income increases. In this context, increased capacity for affiliates to influence sectoral and workplace restructuring policies.
  9. In that context, the need for a strong developmental and democratic state to drive a growth and development strategy with a strong redistributive thrust.
  10. Resurgence of the African trade union movement playing a central role in developing the perspective of the international trade union movement.

The programme clearly called for a worst case scenario, to be avoided, defined as characterised by, in the main, the failure to systematically implement the 2015 Plan - which failure entailed, among others:

  • A rapid decline in membership to below 1 million by the 30th Anniversary of COSATU in 2015.
  • The persistence of financial challenges, ultimately forcing a cutback in our roles in the range of issues.
  • The coherence and unity of COSATU being undermined leading to splits.
  • The collapse of the Alliance and in that context the ANC and the SACP also facing splits.
  • A full- blown "skorokoro" scenario as painted by the September Commission Report.

The COSATU 2015 Plan clearly called for the unity of the trade union movement. It set a tight timeframe for 2009, of unifying the three federations in the country and of achieving the vision of one-country-one-federation, one-industry-one-union.

This year is the last year before 2015, we are looking forward to your assessment of performance towards the achievement of the 2015 Plan. We are equally interested in knowing the reasons why - where this is the case - targets have not been achieved.

There is a new tendency, which is actually a factional line, suggesting that COSATU is in the state of a "paralysis" and has as thus failed to implement its last National Congress Resolutions. This factional line must be confronted for what it is, a ploy to disunite the federation. Were the idea objective, it would have went back to an objective assessment of the implementation of COSATU’s 2015 Plan given that 2015 is just around the corner and tell us why the objectives and targets of the plan - where this is the case - were not achieved during a decade-long period since 2003!

It is important to remark that by looking closely at the COSATU 2015 Plan the major challenges facing the federation are revealed. The objectives we have highlighted from the plan expose the fact that what COSATU is actually facing, is a hostile reaction towards this programme - the 2015 Plan. The advocates of disunity are relentlessly attacking the objectives of the plan. They are doing everything in their power to undermine and ensure that the plan fails, now and beyond 2015.

The COSATU 2015 Plan states in no uncertain terms that the federation must avoid "The collapse of the Alliance and in that context the ANC and the SACP also facing splits". In sharp contrast, the advocates of disunity are driving COSATU to split both internally and from the Alliance. Historically, this fits the mould of an external agenda. However, its external drivers have found internal collaborators and expression within the ranks of our own COSATU-led trade union movement.

The advocates of disunity are manoeuvring by all manner of tactics in order to split the federation and split it from the Alliance. They displayed determination to do everything that violates discipline to produce the consequential disunity that they want. Revolutionaries must be careful about this, but they must at the same time be cautious to let loose of anarchy and destruction. Revolutionary discipline must, therefore, remain essential. Without it there cannot be unity and cohesion in a revolutionary movement!

Let us defend our revolution from destruction by reactionary forces!

It is now open for all to see that that there is a co-ordinated agenda to ferment destabilisation in our country, undermine democracy, and dislodge the ANC-led National Liberation Movement and Alliance.

This is the context in which a right-wing parliamentary alliance led by the party of apartheid, white privilege, the conservative-liberal DA, comprising of a handful of other parties including the proto-fascist party led by the most corrupt tenderpreneur, the plunderer of Limpopo, the so-called economic freedom fighters, has been forged. The SACP has pointed it out long ago that this, the EFF, was essentially a right-wing project masquerading as the "left". Its alliance with the DA and other right-wing parliamentary parties exposed character of its content.

This reactionary alliance of right-wing forces occurs in the backdrop of an imperialist onslaught against our revolution and all progressive peoples of the world, and must definitively be defeated. Its first programme has been to turn parliament into theatre, disrupt its proceedings, and coalesce around defending anarchy. This is coupled with efforts to seek to co-opt the Public Protector’s report into Nkandla to advance regime change. As an attack not on an individual per se but on the ANC and our revolutionary movement as a whole this agenda has expanded its activity. As we have seen it is this very same agenda that displayed a middle finger to the Deputy President in Parliament when it advanced the failed "motion of no confidence" against the Speaker.

Our task against this regime change agenda must find a profound expression in all centres of power. Within the so-called civil society organisations and the media this very same agenda is being entrenched rigorously - with the childish disruption of Parliament projected as the so-called robust engagement. We must go all out to ensure that this agenda fails with distinction!

The SACP is looking forward to your decisive participation in this programme, in the second, more radical phase of our struggle, in our struggle for socialism. It is, fundamentally, against these struggles of our people and the working class that the reactional DA-led right-wing reactionary alliance has been forged.

Let us advance, deepen and defend our second, more radical phase of the National Democratic Revolution!

Let us defend SADTU from the artilleries of destruction directed at it!

Let us defend COSATU from disunity, separatists and the forces of fragmentation!

The SACP looks forward to SADTU as a reliant force in this struggle!

We wish your Congress all the success it needs!

Thank you comrades!

Issued by the SACP

Contact

Alex Mashilo - Spokesperson
Mobile - 082 9200 308
Office - 011 339 3621/2

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