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SACP 14th Congress closing address by SACP General Secretary Cde Blade Nzimande

15 July 2017, Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng Province

On behalf of the Central Committee and all of you, I am sure I would not be amiss to congratulate you on what has been a successful 14th Congress of our party, the South African Communist Party, the SACP. Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate the newly elected Central Committee, and also the manner in which you as delegates have worked to reach a consensus on leadership and the resolutions we have adopted. We are not against democratic expression through elections, but the Party has decided to do things differently in order to unite ourselves through - first and foremost - seeking democratic consensus.

Through this Congress we have re-affirmed and further elaborated on our being a Party of the working class, but that is also prepared to engage a wider range of other progressive forces, as well as a range of patriotic South Africans in order to defend our democracy and our revolution.

The SACP firmly anchors its medium term strategic outlook around driving a second, more radical phase of our transition. At the heart of this must be the de-monopolisation of our economy. This must not be rhetoric, but must find expression through concrete struggles of the working class, supported and sometimes led by the SACP.

We have now resolved on the issue of the SACP and its electoral options by building on the resolutions of the 12th and 13th Congresses of our Party. At the same time we have resolved to maintain our Alliance.

We emerge from the 14th Party Congress with a clear message about the Alliance in its present form and deeply concerned about its future. While the Alliance remains strategic, the manner in which it functions is clearly outdated. The Alliance’s mode of operation is incapable of holding together the Alliance any further. If the modus operandi of the Alliance does not change, the Alliance will inevitably disintegrate with serious consequences. The rise of factionalism and its contagion, with the ANC as the epicentre, the increasing marginalisation of consensus-seeking consultation with the Alliance both by an increasing number of individual leaders in positions of power and some leadership structures of the ANC across all levels, and, coupled with these two destructive tendencies, the rise of authoritarianism, are undermining the Alliance altogether with its strategic relevance.

The last time the Alliance held a national summit was two years ago, in June/July 2015. The Alliance should have held an economic policy summit by June this year, before the ANC national policy conference and our 14th Party Congress.

The outcome of the economic policy summit was crucial for consideration by the two major policy meetings of the two political formations of the Alliance. It did not happen, as did most meetings of the Alliance that should have taken place. The Alliance Political Council is also not meeting regularly. When it takes place, the outcome of its last meeting is almost forgotten with virtually no expression in implementation. Its last meeting, which was scheduled to take place in the first week of June this year, was cancelled. Four years ago, in August/September 2013 the Alliance held a national summit. The summit adopted a declaration recognising that the SACP and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) raised genuine concerns about the National Development Plan, the NDP in its current form. It was agreed that these concerns, which led to both the SACP and Cosatu not endorsing the economic and labour market policy content of the NDP, would be addressed. The declaration established a Task Team to execute the work for consideration by the Alliance Political Council as well as National Summit or Economic Policy Summit. All that did not happen, and the NDP is propagated as if the Alliance did not agree that it is not cast in stone and must be changed.

It is important for Alliance partners to express their views openly, without fear, favour, or prejudice, in accordance with their democratic independence on decisions made without consensus-seeking consultation. The national democratic revolution belongs to all of us as Alliance partners and the people as a whole. The revolution is too important to be left to one Alliance partner alone, or to some individuals, or worse off to a faction. How the revolution must be carried out through the state, including legislation, policy, regulations, programme, and who must be deployed to make it happen, must be a collective Alliance responsibility. It requires the unity and cohesion of the Alliance and the involvement of all Alliance components. There will be no reason in principle why we must claim to be in Alliance with one another if we cannot work together to determine the direction of our national democratic revolution, including deployments.

Let us once more remind ourselves of who we are by quoting our late Chairperson, Cde Yusuf Dadoo, on how he characterised the Party in his introduction to South African Communists Speak in 1980:

‘The Communist Party was always a party of militants and activists and we never had room for passengers. Our Party members have been in the thick of every people’s struggle since the First World War - in the ceaseless campaigns against the pass laws, the fight for higher wages and better working conditions, the fight against fascism and war, the mineworkers’ strikes of 1920, 1922 and 1946, the defiance campaign of 1952, the campaign for the Congress of the People and the adoption of the Freedom Charter, the bus boycotts, the resistance to apartheid segregation and dispossession’.

We are reminding ourselves on this because we have entered a very complicated political period in the history of our revolution and our country. You cannot take the kinds of resolutions you have taken here and have a business as usual. We must considerably strengthen the organisational, financial and, in particular, the campaigning capacity of our branches and other SACP structures. We must not have passengers in the Party. We must remove passengers from positions of responsibility and leadership. All of us will have to do twice if not thrice more than what we have been doing for the Party.

The most important message we need to take back is that we must go out to strengthen all our structures at all levels. Most importantly, comrades, we need strong SACP and YCL branches. We cannot be able to drive a campaign to build working class hegemony in all key sites of power if we are weak. Even more important, we need to think about structures that will enable the SACP (and the working class broadly) to have an organisational presence in all key sites of power. The structures of the SACP at the present moment are principally community based branches.

For instance how do we ensure our presence in crucial institutions such as universities and colleges?

Related to the above therefore, the task of our structures is to take the organisational renewal process seriously. We all need to work hard towards the finalisation of this process. However, the organisational review process must not just be a theoretical exercise it must be underpinned by active campaigning and mass work on the ground by our structures. We have for instance adopted a number of resolutions that points to important campaigns that we either need to take up or escalate. For example we have taken important resolutions in fighting patriarchy, organising women through the areas in which they are involved; in the school governing bodies, stokvels, burial societies, the churches, etc. Let us also take up campaigns to clean areas in which we live, our neighbourhoods!

Lastly, let us congratulate the 2nd Deputy Provincial Secretary of Gauteng, Comrade Mandla Radebe, for being informed whilst we were at this congress that he has obtained his PhD! I also have a branch, which has delegates here, the Esther Barsel branch. You are doing well with your Red Thursdays Umrabulo.

I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of Congress to thank our international and local guests, including our Alliance partners, and the media for attending the Congress, and for the work well done. Our message to all of you and the delegates is: Please drive safely back home, and arrive alive!