|Volume 5, No. 50, 01 February 2006|
By: Blade Nzimande, General Secretary
On March 1st we will be voting in local government elections.
The SACP calls on workers and poor, on professionals and progressives,on teachers and students, on farmworkers and all our people in the rural areas, to come out in our millions on March 1st - to VOTE ANC!
These will be the third non-racial, democratic local government elections in our country. Our SACP structures and cadres are already involved in the election campaign, both in ANC election campaign structures, and through the SACP?s own election structures.
The SACP has taken a decision to throw its full weight behind an overwhelming ANC victory in all municipalities of our country. We have done this not just out of habit or as a routine decision, but because of what the ANC-led government has done and also because of the expectations that we as South African communists have from ANC-led municipalities.
Major advances since 1994
In the short period since 1994, the ANC-led government, at national, provincial and local levels has worked to make MAJOR CHANGES FOR THE BETTER:
- millions more people have access to clean water and electricity in their homes;
- the interests of children, people with disability, youth, women and older people have been promoted more than ever before;
- millions of low-cost houses have been built;
- new education and training opportunities have been provided;
- clinics in local communities have been built.
Developmental local government
But we are acutely aware that despite these major advances, there are still many challenges. Four million South Africans are unemployed. Employed workers continue to be oppressed by the bosses. Workers are casualised. Workers are treated as temporaries, even after years of service. On many farms, workers and their families are still brutalised.
Millions of South Africans live in poverty. As the SACP we expect that ANC-led municipalities need to ensure that we use our resources in a manner that will make maximum impact in the fight against poverty. For instance we expect all ANC-led municipalities, both in the urban and rural areas, to set aside a portion of their procurement budgets to specifically support and source from co-operatives and other community development entities. The award of tenders must take into account the impact these should make towards creating sustainable livelihoods for the majority of our people, rather than limiting award of such tenders to individuals only. In line with our own 2006 programme of action ?Communist Cadres to the Front, For People-Centred Local Economic Development?, the SACP will mobilise our communities to ensure that they drive the developmental agenda of all municipalities.
In addition the SACP is concerned that most of the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) in municipalities have not adequately incorporated land and agrarian transformation strategies. We want to ensure that ANC-led municipalities are exemplary in this regard. There is still too much haphazard selling of municipal land to cater for the interests of the rich to build their golf-courses and game reserves. Municipal land needs to be used strategically to promote new types of human settlements and the release of land to fight poverty. In rural areas, millions need land, seeds, irrigation, decent roads. Developmental local government calls for an integrated land and agrarian strategy, linkingnational and provincial government policies to effective local strategies for land and agrarian transformation.
The SACP, in line with its financial sector campaign, is strongly of the view that local government should use its muscle to ensure that the banksand the financial sector as a whole serve the interests of poor communities. For instance all municipalities bank their monies with the commercial banks, yet we have not used this enormous power to ensure that if banks profit from municipal funds, they should also invest significant amounts of those monies in poor communities. We put people?s monies in these banks and they continue to red-line poor communities. We expect local government as a whole, especially that led by the ANC, to make banks and other financial institutions serve the people.
This year we hope that the long-standing Co-operatives Banks Bill will come before parliament. We expect local government to actively support and create an environment for the growth of these people?s institutions. For example, municipalities should progressively set aside part of their monies to invest in co-operative banks, as a concrete way of supporting these institutions as they mature. This will go a long way in ensuring that we provide affordable micro-credit to the workers and the poor, millions of whom are still red-lined, blacklisted by the credit bureaux and daily milked dry by omashonisa (the loan sharks).
Five million South Africans are living with HIV - 500,000 of whom have AIDS and need anti-retrovirals. We are also of the view that local government has an important role to play. Clinics in localities should play an important role in aids prevention, health education for our people, and the effective roll out of anti-retrovirals. Our view is that these community clinics should be at the centre of primary health care.
In short, the SACP?s expectations from the ANC in local government, is that it should drive a developmental state that prioritises the interests and needs of the workers and the poor of our country. We need a strong developmental state that is unified around a plan to accelerate shared growth. We need government that is committed to halving unemployment and poverty by 2014. We need government that is united nationally, provincially and locally.
Given the ANC?s track-record we are convinced that it is the only political party capable of achieving these objectives. So our vote for the ANC is a vote for developmental local government.
Let?s build people?s power ? where we live and where we work
Democracy is not just an electoral event. Our votes are not blank cheques. These local government elections provide us with an opportunity to discuss as communities the achievements and weaknesses in our municipalities andwards. It is important that our communities speak their minds. Let?s use theopportunity to talk to ANC candidates, and to build our local structures.
It is indeed true that in many areas the ANC list and nomination processes for local government had problems. Some of these include factionalistcampaigning, in some instances isolation and marginalisation of other comrades seen as competitors, and in other instances anti-SACP campaigning, as well as nomination processes that have not been very transparent. It is because of some of these problems that some of our cadres have sought to stand as independents in opposition to the ANC. As the SACP we clearly disapprove of this, and we expect no member of our Party to stand, in the name of the SACP, as an independent.
However it is important that as a movement we openly acknowledge some of these problems rather than seek to bury them and pretend they are not there. We clearly need to reflect on these problems after the elections and devise a political strategy to deal with them. It is clear that we need to intensify contact with our cadreship and membership in general, and ensure that we root out the malaise that seems to be creeping into our movement at various levels ? the problems of factionalism, patronage, corruption, gate-keeping and power-mongering.
For the SACP these problems should be seen as challenges rather than obstacles, and should in no way be used as a basis for not voting for the ANC. Mature cadreship understands that it is important to address these within our structures, whilst ensuring that we mobilise our people to vote for the ANC and encourage communities to talk openly about problems.
It is for these reasons that we believe we should not demobilise our people after the elections. Instead we should preserve as much of the campaigning energies to ensure that our people are the drivers of transformation beyond elections. Through its campaigns, the SACP will play its part in this mobilisation effort. We need to help councillors to meet their commitments and help them do their work effectively. We need to avoid a ?speed trap? mentality towards our elected representatives, that is, we vote for them and then stand aside until (and sometimes even hope) they commit mistakes, and then castigate them. Councillors without active and mobilised community support cannot be effective.
As the SACP we will lead a programme to build people?s land committees (especially, but not exclusively, in the rural areas) to ensure that it is the people and communities themselves that drive land and agrarian transformation. We will intensify our work in building co-operatives and ensure that they benefitfrom local government programmes. We will also intensify our work to build local structures of the SACP-led Financial Sector Campaign Coalition, to rally together the resources of stokvels, burial societies, taxi associations for the benefit of the workers and the poor.
However, a specific responsibility lies with the ANC to lead mass campaigns at local level, not only during election campaigns. It is the ANC that is best placed to unite as wide a range of forces as possible, both in broader society and specifically in communities, to drive developmental local government. Not enough of this ANC-led mass activism has been undertaken since 1994, yet we need more of this to tackle the many challenges at local government level.
That is why the SACP welcomes and congratulates the ANC for requiring its councillors to take an oath in a public meeting to:
- serve the community
- to stand without motives of material advantage or personal gain
- to fight corruption
- to listen to the community and hold report-back meetings at least four-times a year
- to live in the community that has elected them.
Indeed councillors should be held to account in terms of this oath, and also in discharging their responsibilities in line with their commitments.
That is why the SACP says: VOTE ANC!
Opposition is a luxury
Don?t waste your vote on small protest parties. Opposition is a luxury. The real challenge is to make local government work better. For instance a party like the Democratic Alliance (DA) is nothing but a champion for minority interests, whipping up their fears in order to defend gains from the apartheid past. The DA also represents the interests of some of the most backward elements of the capitalist class, including its opposition to land and agrarian transformation to defend the interest of the white agricultural capitalist class. One only has to look at the DA?s slogans like ?Take back your city?, (ostensibly from black run municipalities) to understand the racial basis of the party.
A party like the IFP is fast disintegrating judging by its loss of KwaZulu-Natal government in 2004, and the continued defections from its ranks. It is a desperate party whose leader is yearning for the apartheid past of the KwaZulu Bantustan. It is a party that has no vision for the future, and whose record, both as a ruling party in the KwaZulu Bantustan and as leader of KZN government between 1994 and 2004, was dismal to say the least. The task for voters in KwaZulu-Natal is to build on the ANC vote in 2004 to dislodge the IFP from the municipalities it is controlling.
The other smaller parties are not worth wasting one?s vote on. We call on our people to use their vote to build a government that upholds the interests of theworkers and the poor. And that can only be a vote for the ANC.
Minimise distractions from within our ranks
It is important that during the elections period and indeed beyond we must try and minimise actions that only act to distract the ANC and its alliance from the very pressing tasks to deepen the national democratic revolution. The call, seemingly coming from the President of SANCO rather than SANCO itself, for amendment to our Constitution to extend the term of the President, is one such unnecessary distraction.
Prior to the 2004 elections the DA used this issue as a gimmick to capture votesfor itself by claiming that the ANC wanted a two-thirds majority in order to amendthe constitution at will, and specifically to allow President Mbeki to serve a third term. Therefore a call for amendment to the constitution for this purpose is actually furthering the agenda of the DA, to project the President in particular, and the ANC in general, as a power-monger. What is the purpose of raising this issue (essentially a DA electoral ploy in the 2004 elections) in the run up to the 2006 local government elections?
This call is also an embarrassment to President Mbeki himself who has pointed out on numerous occasions that he has no interest in serving a third-term, and is committed to upholding our constitution in this regard. President Mbeki has also engaged on the African continent and indeed the world around the same matter, underlining the importance of moving away from ?Presidents-for-life?.
The SACP reiterates its stand that there is no need to amend the constitution in the manner that it is being suggested by the President of SANCO. This should never be done irrespective of the incumbent of such a position. Let us rather put all our energies on the elections at hand and the very important tasks facing our movement and the national democratic revolution as whole.
THE SACP SAYS:
TOGETHER LET?S MAKE LOCAL GOVERNMENT WORK BETTERTOGETHER LET?S BUILD PEOPLE?S POWER
Tuesday, 31 January 2006
The South African Communist Party (SACP) is shocked and saddened by the untimely passing away of Comrade Juda Tsotetsi, the provincial Secretary of the SACP in Mpumalanga province. Comrade Juda was born in March 1972, he was 33 years when he passed away.
Comrade Juda passed away this morning at about 04h00 am after a short illness, after collapsing in a meeting in Embalenhle in the middle of last week. He passed away at the Witbank General Hospital.
The SACP lowers its banner in honour of this hero of the working class and the poor. Comrade Juda will be remembered by his complete and selfless dedication and commitment to the struggle for national liberation and Socialism. Under his provincial leadership Cde Juda mobilized the poor and the workers in Mpumalanga behind the SACP and its campaigns. The SACP in Mpumalanga province, under his leadership, was leading in the establishment of People?s Land Committees as part of our land and agrarian transformation campaign. In him we lost a communist cadre who was always to the front, and the best of the younger cadres who have been in the forefront of building a strong SACP after the 1994 democratic breakthrough.
The land campaign of the SACP in 2004 found its profound expression in the rural areas of Mpumalanga more than anywhere else due to and under the leadership of Cde Juda Tsotetsi. The campaign for credit amnesty from the credit bureaus was officially launched in his province, and also played a leading role in the establishment of the provincial structures of the SACP-led Financial Sector Campaign Coalition. It is for this dedication and activism that Cde Juda Tsotetsi will be sorely missed by the broader SACP family.
Cde Juda is survived by his wife Thandeka Tsotetsi and four (4) Children.
A comprehensive obituary and other details will be released and posted on our web portal in the next few days.
Issued by: SACP
Media Liaison Officer
South African Communist Party (SACP)
Tel: 011 339 3621/2
Fax: 011 339 4244/6880
Fax2email: 086 613 5646
Mobile: 076 573 7764
Web portal: www.sacp.org.za