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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 15, No. 41, 21 November 2016

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Socialist construction in Vietnam on a great path

Interview by the Vietnam News Agency with Comrade Chris Matlhako, the South African Communist Party (SACP), Political Bureau and Central Committee Member, Secretary for International Affairs, 9 November 2016, SACP Headquarters, Johannesburg

Vietnam News Agency (VNA): We know that you have recently been to Vietnam to participate in the 18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties (IMCWP). Today, many people say a leftist movement somehow appears to be flourishing around the world. So what is your take on that? And how can the Communist and Worker’s Parties worldwide contribute to global stability, peace and prosperity?

Comrade Chris Matlhako (Matlhako): Well! I think it is important in the post-1990s period, after the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern European Socialist projects, that we have recovered ground for socialist construction. The processes in Latin America have been very helpful in this process of struggle. So, the 18th Meeting of the International Communist and Workers’ Parties is part of the contributions towards making socialism not only the theoretical concept but also a practical solution to the lives of the people. When we met in Hanoi recently, we also evaluated what has taken place in Vietnam in almost 30 years of Vietnamese Socialist Construction that has put the country in a particular trajectory of trade in order to address or assist it to address the major challenges that confront Vietnam and its population of almost 90 million. The Meeting was very successful, and its occurrence contributes in a significant way towards the building of the elements of and momentum towards socialism in the world.

VNA: Vietnam has been in a renovation process since 1986, what do you think could be the most outstanding changes the Vietnamese people have made to the development of the country? And what is the role of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) in that cause?

Matlhako: The role of the Communist Party of Vietnam is very important.  In the recent 12th Congress of Vietnam Communist Party, the Party made a very important assessment of its role in socialist construction in Vietnam, in cohering the people, providing unity, and contributing towards development and progress in Vietnam. That role has been very outstanding. So, the aims of Ho Chi Minh have been achieved. And many of the things that a strategy for national renovation in Vietnam represented have been achieved in the recent process of socialist construction. Vietnam for almost 30 years has been attempting to build an alternative society instead of a system of capitalism.  And not many people have taken note of what Vietnam is doing.

In fact, today Vietnam is also recognised by international institutions, which put it into the category of most promising countries called the N11 in the next coming five to ten years. And after the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, the N11 countries that include Vietnam are some of the countries that have the highest possibility of achieving economic growths that are very high, about 7% or so. There should be something that Vietnam is doing correctly. Importantly, Vietnam in the last decades has been able to create the constitutional process that confirms the integrity of its strategic programme.

The rule of law is an important aspect of Vietnamese development and Vietnamese socialist construction. Secondly, it is also important to note that Vietnam used to have food shortages but that today Vietnam exports rice. That is a very good achievement, because it demonstrates that the approximately 90 million people of Vietnam at last have food and better quality life. So these are very important indicators which demonstrate that socialist construction in Vietnam is important, though this may take long given the fact that the world economy is dominated by the capitalist mode of production and imperialist forces.

VNA: South Africa and Vietnam are developing a relationship that is based on mutual trust and interests. What is your thought on that relationship? And what should the two countries do to further the fields of bilateral cooperation, and to realise all the potential of that relationship?

Matlhako: Recently the Deputy President of the country, Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa led a delegation to Vietnam to have a discussion on bilateral agreement between Vietnam and South Africa. Those bilateral agreements are an important platform that brings together trade, finance and other relations between Vietnam and South Africa.

In fact, we think there is a lot that can be achieved between South Africa and Vietnam as a strategic country. Also, South Africa can learn a lot from Vietnam. We have a large geographic area, and we also have areas such as the Northern Cape, a sparsely populated area, but we have been able to address the link between a sparsely populated area and a large geographic mass. Vietnam has demonstrated that it can attend to that dilemma of small geographic mass and a large population. It is important to know that the approximately million people in Vietnam have secured a better quality of life; all of them want food on the table, all of them want to wear better clothes, and all of them have a desire to be better people in this time, in this period, and beyond.

VNA: As you may know, the territorial disputes in the South China Sea (named East Sea - Bien Dong - by Vietnam) have been simmering for years. The Vietnamese government has always committed itself to protecting the country’s sacred territory and waters by peaceful means consistent with international law. Although many efforts have been made, the tensions in the South China Sea are showing no signs of abating. Do you see any risks or miscalculations potentially posed by such disputes? And what can be the role of international law in peacefully resolving that persistent problem?

Matlhako: We think the disputes in - let us call it - the South China Sea can only be resolved by the parties, meaning that China and Vietnam have to come together. Together with other players in the region, China and Vietnam have to come together to resolve this matter amicably. And also that needs to be done on the basis of international law, on the basis of the laws of the ocean and the sea so that the matter does not escalate to a military war which is absolutely undesirable. Others, especially imperialist forces, want to drive a wedge and foster a conflict, as the United States does using territorial disputes between China and Vietnam!

You would know that recently some of the presidents in the region have declared that they are willing to talk with China about the matter. This is the greater potential today for resolving the matter amicably based on international law between the parties that are involved. This discussion can also be both on a bilateral level and on a multilateral level (meaning on a one-on-one level and also on a multilateral level) so that the matters can be resolved and that can be taken to appropriate regional structures for endorsement and facilitation.

VNA: What is your point of view about the Vietnamese government’s position on resolving the disputes by peaceful means and in consistence with international law?

Matlhako: It is important that this must be resolved peacefully, because the peaceful resolution of the matter will actually enhance the mutual and common interests between China and Vietnam and other regional parties that are involved. But also it must be based on international law, using international law as a base to resolve disputes of this nature. The United Nations law on the ocean and the sea is an important base that upon which this matter can be approached. It must be resolved based on this kind of discussions; face to face engagements. All the parties involved need to come to the table and discuss to find an amicable resolution to the matter.


Umsebenzi Online is an online voice of the South African working class