SACP General Secretary Cde Blade Nzimnade: Address to the 11th National Congress of NEHAWU - Defend, Advance and Deepen the NDR: Strengthen workplace organisation, deepen class consciousness and advance internationalism!
26 June 2017
Allow me on behalf of our SACP Central Committee and membership as a whole to express our sincere gratitude, for this opportunity to address your very important 11th National Congress. The importance of your congress theme cannot be overemphasised: Strengthen workplace organisation, deepen class consciousness and advance internationalism.
Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate your President, Comrade Makwayiba for having been elected the first African to hold the position of President of the World Federation of Trade Unions, the WFTU. This is an honour to you Cde President, but it is also something that Nehawu must be proud of, and indeed for the entire working class, including its vanguard Party, the SACP.
Together let us intensify international solidarity and comprehensively advance internationalism!!
The clarion call in your congress theme to advance internationalism requires that we underline that this year is the year of the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, which occurred in Russia in 1917. This was an epoch-making event, with long-term and deep-going significance in the recorded history of human society, the history of class struggle as Marx and Engels state in the Communist Manifesto. The Soviet Union, which was established following the Great October Socialist Revolution, supported national liberation struggles. These struggles were largely taking place in the colonised global South.
The history of the liberation breakthroughs that took place in our own region, Southern Africa, will be incomplete without recognising the international solidarity support offered overwhelmingly unconditionally by the Soviet Union. The Communist Party played a major role in this regard as a Party of both national liberation and socialism, a Party of internationalism, and as part and parcel of the international communist movement. This is the context in which the massive material, financial and training support offered by, and our struggle received from the Soviet Union, was located!!
We have reasonable expectations that this important Nehawu 11th National Congress will discuss a programme of activities to celebrate both the Great October Socialist Revolution and its contribution to our democratic breakthrough. In addition, we are looking forward to the outcome of this congress in strengthening international solidarity with other people of the world who are facing capitalist exploitation, its highest stage of imperialism and political forms of domination.
The measures recently adopted by the United States President Donald Trump toughening his imperialist dictatorship regime`s oppression of the Cuban people must not go unchallenged. The SACP reiterates its call for the United States to unconditionally lift its inhuman political-economic embargo against Cuba, and to withdraw its occupation of the Cuban territory of Guantanamo Bay. In the same vein, the SACP expresses its message of democratic revolutionary solidarity with the people of Western Sahara and Palestine, among others whose land is occupied by oppressor regimes.
Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, in its neo-liberal model is facing a crisis. It has no clear alternative to this. Such situations present possibilities and dangers as well. Crises in the capitalist system always open prospects for progressive and Left revolutionary advances. As we have seen there were some important advances for the Left in places like Latin America, with the emergence of Left governments over the last ten years or so, as well as in places like Greece. However, imperialism is fighting hard to reverse some of these gains. That is why, amongst other things, we must also intensify solidarity with the people of Venezuela.
However, on the other hand, capitalist crises also pose dangers for the emergence of Right-wing populism and neo-fascist forces, as we see in parts of Europe and in the United States. The rise of Donald Trump and the racist or xenophobic aspects that were associated with Brexit represent some of these dangers that as the Left we need to roll back. That is why deepening Left solidarity across the globe is an absolute imperative, both in the immediate and the overall struggle for socialism.
Let us intensify the struggle against imperialism on our shores, together let us defend, advance and deepen our national democratic revolution!!
Your congress is separated only by one week from our Party`s 14th Congress, which will take place from 10 to 15 July. Following both our congresses, on 30 July the SACP will be celebrating the 96th anniversary of its founding. The Party will be four years away from celebrating its centenary in 2021. Related to these major Party events, is the question of the Party`s Political Programme and what the Party would like to see our society achieve.
Our Congress will therefore discuss the context, content, strategic tasks and take resolutions to update our Party Programme.
Our focus will be on the five years from July 2017 to July 2022 when the programme will be reviewed again. This task will be based on the immediate objective to complete the national democratic revolution and aim to secure a socialist transition to the ultimate goal of communism. The Congress will be convening under the theme: Defend, Advance, Deepen the National Democratic Revolution - The Vanguard Role of the SACP.
The congress discussion documents and position papers, as well as the declarations and resolutions from our last Party Congress held in 2012 and the Special Congress and Media Transformation Summit respectively held in 2015, place emphasis on the important question of moving our national democratic revolution on to a second, more radical phase. This includes deepening democratisation in all spheres of societal activity and advancing real radical economic transformation - as opposed to corporate state capture, corruption, rent-seeking and enriching a few simply because they are black at the expense of the immense majority of our people who remain sandwiched between the hard-pressed vice grips of economic exploitation, persisting high levels of inequality, unemployment and poverty.
Related to these questions are the imperatives of strengthening organisation, unity and cohesion of the motive forces of our revolution. In this context the congress will discuss the necessity to advance the reconfiguration of the alliance. Linked directly with this question is the fundamental issue to any revolutionary party. That is the whole question of state power.
Rather than narrow the issue of state power to party political power, our stance at present is that the SACP seeks to establish democratic working class power and hegemony over the state and all other key centres of power in particular and society in general. It is in this context that the relationship of the Party to state power must be firmly anchored. This is why we have correctly expanded the issue of state power in relation to the Party to include popular power.
The Alliance must be reconfigured!
In the coming period the ANC-headed alliance will be and must be reconfigured. Our view as the SACP is that while the alliance remains both important and strategically relevant, its workings are outdated and must be changed to move with the times. The style of work whereby certain leaders in the ANC or leading structures of the ANC alone take decisions on policy, legislation, regulations and key deployments as if there is no alliance will not hold the alliance together. The rise of factionalism and its entrenchment at all levels has resulted in a situation where there is no consultation on certain decisions even within the ANC, let alone consultation with other alliance partners. The last Cabinet reshuffle glaringly exposed this weakness. And there are other decisions taken even thereafter both at national and sub-national levels without consultation with the alliance.
If we are an alliance we must work together and consult on all major policies, decisions and deployment concerning our revolution. Otherwise there will be no justification why we are in an alliance without a material effect. One thing is certain, the national democratic revolution belongs to all of us, and so is the government. Without making SACP and COSATU decisions ANC decisions, we must, working together as the alliance, inform the direction of our shared revolution - especially what must happen in parliament, government and other state organs. In other words, in the same way as we should not impose SACP and COSATU decisions on the ANC, the ANC should not impose its decisions on the SACP, COSATU and the Alliance (including SANCO). The ANC-led electoral platform is not exclusively an ANC affair, which is why we have opted for a single electoral platform since our country`s first democratic elections in 1994. This is an alliance platform. It is a platform for the whole of the historical support base of our struggle. This is why the alliance must function democratically and build an inviolable contact with the masses to express their will in decision-making, legislation and public policies.
However, comrades, we must bear in mind that reconfiguring the Alliance is not a boardroom exercise. It is a function of, and is determined by the balance of forces on the ground. If we as the socialist axis of the Alliance, the SACP and COSATU, are weak, we will not be able to drive the reconfiguration of the Alliance. Related to this is the need to ensure that we remain in an Alliance with the ANC and not with the Guptas or some faction of the ANC associated with them or not!
Build the broadest possible patriotic, popular front of progressive forces!
Related to the reconfiguration of the alliance is therefore the crucial imperative of building the broadest possible patriotic and popular front to defend, advance and deepen our democracy and national sovereignty, to fight corporate state capture, corruption, rent-seeking and all forms of manipulation of our national wealth and public resources by sections of individuals and elitist groupings - regardless of whether they are black or white. This must go hand-in-hand with forging a common, widely-accepted programme to radically reduce, towards eventually resolving, the problems of inequality, unemployment and poverty. This is where real economic transformation to eliminate the colonial features of our country`s economy and place our national wealth and public resources at the disposal of the people as a whole will be crucial.
If we allow the state to be captured, we will not be able to roll back, let alone defeat, monopoly capital. If we have a weak state, including the very government departments that you, comrades, work for, as well as state owned enterprises to be captured by and to serve private interests, our capacity to build a democratic developmental state will be severely weakened. That is why the SACP and the working class need to properly characterise corporate state capture as part of a counter-revolution! Put differently, monopoly capital and parasitic networks seeking to capture the state and sections of our movement are two sides of the same coin. Both want to accumulate on a capitalist private basis, the former through a rules-based exploitative regime, the latter through both that and the theft and looting of public resources!
The defenders of the Gupta-centred brazen smash and grab private wealth accumulation, and the exploitation of our national assets, are accusing us of focusing only on tackling the Guptas and leaving the rest of private monopoly capital untouched. They must have been fast asleep when the SACP almost single-handedly initiated and consistently driven the financial sector campaign to tackle finance monopoly capital. COSATU and other progressive formations correctly backed the campaign. The campaign has been going on for over 17 years now. It has scored notable achievements, such as the National Credit Act, the National Credit Regulator and the low banking transactional account, the Mzansi Account.
There is still more work to be done to overhaul our country`s financial architecture and make it serve our people, their economic and social needs. This is one of the reasons why we maintained financial sector transformation at the centre of our Red October Campaign. This is the reason why we have been pushing for the convening of the second national financial sector summit under the auspices of the National Economic and Labour Council (NEDLAC). It is for the same reason why we are linking financial sector transformation with the imperative of developing national production through manufacturing expansion and diversification.
It is exactly for these reasons that we have been pushing for policies that will direct investment to the productive sector of the economy to create jobs and reduce unemployment, as opposed to the speculative, gambling-type economy dominant in the financial and capital markets. It is for the same reason that we have been pushing for an end to the ongoing capital investment strike.
Our programme of financial sector transformation is fundamentally different from the agendas of those who just woke up recently after the banks cut their long standing, mutually beneficial ties with the Guptas. They woke up solely to defend the Guptas and divert attention from the rot associated with their brazen smash and grab private wealth accumulation. They must have also been fast asleep when the SACP almost single-handedly initiated our ongoing campaign on transformation of the media. The campaign correctly received support from COSATU and other progressive formations.
Our media and communications paces are under the yoke of the private monopoly of the colonial era Naspers, which was the mouthpiece of the Broederbond, the ideological vanguard of apartheid. The defenders of the Guptas must have been fast asleep to notice our campaign for the transformation of the media. It is none other the SACP that has consistently taken up, as part of our media transformation campaign, campaigning against the unfair deal conveying SABC archives, our national heritage and associated programming control to a private company, Naspers` subsidiary, MultiChoice. We remain firm that the exploitative deal must be terminated.
If we are to save the SABC, we must bring to an end its hollowing out. We must restore its public broadcasting operations and related support functions back to the SABC. The recent termination by the interim SABC board, of the parasitic Business Breakfast show by the Gupta-owned New Age Media must have woken up the defenders of the Guptas. The SABC can run that show without the Gupta`s New Age Media.
There are many self-explanatory examples of the struggles the SACP has waged and continues to wage against monopoly capital.
This includes the struggles we have waged, together with COSATU, as far back as 1996 against the neoliberal Growth, Employment and Redistribution (Gear) economic policy. The defenders of the Guptas do not obviously care about the people as a whole. They simply buried their heads in the sand so they could not notice these struggles.
Let us intensify the struggle against the parasitic networks and build a democratic developmental state!
Let us intensify the struggle against parasites, including the parasitic bourgeoisie. Unless we dislodge parasites from their capture of key levers of power and decision making in our movement and the state, we will not succeed in tackling monopoly capital, the main adversary of our revolution. This is because parasites, as we already can see, will weaken the strategic
capacity and discipline within the ranks of our movement, divide and destroy it. But first they will render it paralysed.
Comrades, what is being revealed by the current emails that the media is releasing bit by bit and on a weekly basis, may actually be the biggest scandal and crisis facing our country and movement since the 1994 democratic breakthrough! The veracity of the content in these emails is being proven as the truth almost every time there are new revelations.
The SACP has called for the establishment of a judicial commission into corporate state capture. We are happy that the ANC national executive committee has now agreed, and government has also accepted the idea. We now call upon this commission, which must be independent, to be established without any further delay. Whilst those who have applied for a review of the Public Protector`s findings and remedies, have the right to do so, but in the meantime a credible and quicker way of establishing the judicial commission must be found as a matter of urgency, and without any further delays!
Whilst a judicial commission will hopefully help us to expose and understand the depth of the problem we face, state corporate capture will only be defeated through organised mass power of the progressive trade union movement, working in tandem with a broad patriotic and popular front of forces.
It is for the above reasons that the SACP is concerned that the labour movement is too inactive in the wake of corporate state capture. If truth be told, unless workers stand up to fight corporate state capture, our country and our revolution will be gone. NEHAWU, as the largest union in the public service, has a leading responsibility and role to play, in rolling back and defeating the corporate capture of the state. The SACP calls upon NEHAWU to play its role. The SACP will support you. We need working class action, across COSATU and beyond! Sukumani Maqabane!
In fact, this Congress is correctly calling for deepening class consciousness. But how do you deepen class consciousness? It is through a combination of at least three deeply interrelated and often mutually reinforcing processes: strong organisation, activism and mass action, as well as political education. Political education is not only theoretical classes. It is also requires active participation in class struggle. Intensification of class struggles is absolutely necessary to build organisation. But as Lenin correctly said, Theory without practice is sterile, just as practice without theory is blind! Put differently, the struggle against parasites is an important site of struggle and education for workers to clearly understand the different class forces that are contesting the state. Wage the struggle against parasites to educate workers, and educate workers by intensifying the struggle against parasites!
However, the struggle against monopoly capital and parasitic networks must be subjected to our overall goal of building a democratic developmental state and intensifying the struggle for socialism. Again, NEHAWU has an important role to play in this regard, given its structural location in the public service. NEHAWU has an important role to play in the building of a patriotic and professional cadre of civil servants and public sector managers dedicated to serving the people. In fact our revolution will not advance, unless we develop such a cadre. For instance, NEHAWU must also have an interest in workers, but also beyond workers so that we ensure that there are indeed professional managers.
One of the biggest challenges we face in our public service is forever tempting especially senior managers with BEE and tender opportunities, including the dangers of such managers becoming corruptible or outright being bought. This has unsettled and compromised a number of our public sector managers, as well as other public servants. NEHAWU must assist in this regard.
The SACP also calls upon NEHAWU to build its capacity to be able to play a much more prominent role especially in higher education. Much as today we hear about all sorts of concepts about the transformation of higher education, NEHAWU must help to ensure that these struggles are grounded in the struggle to realise people`s education for people`s power.
Strengthen workplace organisation through a united NEHAWU!
Comrades, the SACP welcomes the focus of your Congress theme, also on strengthening workplace organisation. Make sure that you come out of this Congress with a very specific programme of action to do so. The SACP supports your struggles for a comprehensive social security. But, also, and please, comrades, come closer to the Public Investment Corporation. Ensure that you have an effective say in how your pension moneys are invested. You must know that to you, those are your retirement investments, but to parasites, that is loot worth more than R1.7-trillion! Pay attention to workers` concerns in the workplace, whilst at the same time not allowing NEHAWU to be used as a refuge for delinquent workers and managers.
Dear comrades, please do not forget that your capacity to strengthen workplace organisation principally depends on unity. A divided NEHAWU will never be able to be strong in the workplace. This is not the time for divisions. The time for divisions must actually not find any space in the ranks of the working class and its formations, now and going forward. This is why we are advising you, comrades, and comradely, to stand united. There is no reason in principle why you should not engage with one another on any question to reach consensus and preserve unity within the ranks of the union, if you can negotiate with the employers to reach consensus in the form of bargaining agreements. Principled and programmatic unity builds. Divisions destroy.
It is easy to destroy. But it is not easy to build, especially a high quality and long-lasting formation. Let us build strong organisation at the workplace. Let us pay undivided attention on the plight of the workers at work, in politics, in the community and everywhere they are affected anything whatsoever.
Use this Congress to unite yourselves! This is the simplest, but perhaps most important, message from the SACP to this Congress!
The SACP wishes you all the success your congress needs!