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SACP fought a protracted battle against Gear and for radical policy change

29 July 2017

Okgopotse JJ Tabane`s The irrelevance of the SACP published by The Star (24 July 2017) refers. If indeed the SACP was irrelevant, Tabane would not have dedicated his time and wasted his efforts to try and justify that the Party was irrelevant. Why bother about something that is irrelevant anyway because it has no material effect? What made Tabane incapable of ignoring the SACP is, on the contrary, its continuing strategic relevance. The fact that he harbours different views opposed to the Party does not make it irrelevant. Every opinion based on scientific criticism the SACP welcomes, but as to prejudices the maxim adopted by the world`s renowned revolutionary social scientist Karl Marx in his Capital from the great Florentine is ours: "Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir le genti", i.e. "[Follow your own course, and let people talk - paraphrased from Dante]" (25 July 1867).

Tabane levels a number of baseless allegations against the SACP. The allegations are all rejected with contempt. Due to the limitation of space I will address just a few. "A few weeks ago", Tabane writes, "the SACP met in Ekurhuleni to deliberate on the future of the ANC". False! The declaration of the National Imbizo held on 19 and 20 May made it very clear what the meeting was convened for: "In the context of deepening, society wide concern about challenges of leadership, moral decay and multiple social and economic crises, the SACP convened a National Imbizo". Note that there is no mention of the ANC and its future in this clear-cut statement.

"Let`s take a look at just a few of its cardinal failures", Tabane writes, referring to the SACP. He continues, "Failure to fight against neoliberalism within the alliance, The Gear (Growth, Employment and Redistribution) remains the prime example..." On the contrary, it was none other the SACP in alliance with COSATU that waged a relentless struggle against Gear, including privatisation of state owned enterprises. The struggle against Gear led to serious tensions on policy within the alliance, lasting over a decade after the introduction of Gear in 1996. A small group of Gear adherents split from the ANC after its 52nd national conference held in Polokwane in 2007. They did not conceal their intentions. They despised the SACP and vowed to fight for the preservation of the economic policy of the previous decade, calling it the best economic policy. They formed the "Congress of the People" (COPE). On 30 November 2008 Tabane was announced as its spokesperson. Of course he joined COPE. Tabane`s toggling of reality is both hypocritical and disingenuous! He left COPE after penning an article on 25 November 2010 explaining why he was resigning. As history has shown, COPE was dwindling from its debut.

By the way the current draft ANC Strategy and Tactics document makes important concessions about the failures of economic policy and wrong economic policy choices during the height of Gear. This did not come on its own. There was, as stated already, serious tensions within the ANC-headed alliance emanating from Gear and generally from economic policy direction. The SACP together with COSATU were pushing strongly for economic policy changes. This is widely acknowledged except on the threshold of prejudice. It is welcome news that, after all, the ANC on its own as an independent formation acknowledged those economic policy weaknesses. The ANC-headed alliance is made up of independent formations characterised by mutual influence. At times this mutual influence was the outcome not only of unity but also of struggle. This is evident in many other major perspectives that have become the alliance`s shared perspectives today.

In addition to the above, it is none other than the SACP that has initiated a campaign on financial sector transformation. The adoption of the National Credit Act and creation of the National Credit Regulator as well as the low income transactional banking account the Mzansi Account are the fruits of the SACP-driven financial sector transformation campaign. In other words, had it not been of the SACP the impact of the ongoing multiple capitalist international crises dating back to 2008 would have been more severe on South Africa, especially on the workers and poor. Reckless and ever increasing insecure lending practices by commercial banks and loan sharks were part of the causes of the crises, which first erupted in the United States in the form of a financial crisis. Yet Tabane accuses the SACP for having done nothing, for having pushed no single legislation to advance the interests of the workers and poor!

* This article was first published by The Star 25 July 2017

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