SACP End-of-year statement
27 December 2017
The South African Communist Party (SACP) wishes to take this opportunity, the 2017 end-of-year period, to wish all South Africans a prosperous new year, 2018. To millions of workers who take their annual leave during this time of a yearly production shutdown in the absence of no other opportunity to do so, the SACP says have a well-deserved rest and a joyous festive season. To public servants, workers in essential services and other sectors of the economy where service delivery, production and trade are going on, the SACP says you have the Party's support. Our national economy, including service delivery, primarily depends on, and is driven by, the labour of workers.
To millions of the unemployed and the under-employed, the SACP says the struggle is not over. Together with the employed workforce that still has to wage and intensify the struggle to bring an end to economic exploitation, let us deepen our joint efforts to push a second radical phase of our struggle for liberation and social emancipation. The immediate aims of this struggle is to achieve freedom from the prevailing capitalist generated inequality, unemployment, poverty, social insecurity and the entire system of exploitation of public resources, national wealth and one person by another.
The year 2017 has been an important policy year, particularly within the Alliance. The SACP held its 14th Congress and the African National Congress (ANC) held its 54th National Conference. The ANC in particular pulled together its conference under highly contested conditions and in a number of respects also contentious. Congratulations are therefore in order. The outcomes of these two important policy processes should contribute meaningfully towards the attainment of the goals of our shared Alliance programme, the Freedom Charter, including on ensuring that land is shared among those who work it.
The year 2017 has been an important year in the struggle against corruption, including the widespread problem of corporate state capture. As society we made progress. Victory is now visibly certain.
To all South Africans across all walks of life the SACP says let us intensify the battle to root out corruption both in the state and industry as a whole. The important role that can be played by immediate establishment of an independent judicial commission of inquiry into state capture cannot be over emphasised.
Accelerated roll-out of access to free higher education and training for students from poor and working class households
The SACP commends government for speeding up the progressive roll-out of free education at all levels since 1994. The establishment of the higher education and training department in 2009 created a dedicated focus on, and accelerated access to colleges and universities.
Two new universities were established, one in Mpumalanga and the other in Northern Cape. The demerger of the University of Limpopo produced a third new university, the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in the City of Tshwane.
The number of South Africans with college and university qualifications robustly increased following an increase in funding for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) from R2.4 billion in 2008 to R15 billion in 2017 and the extension of coverage to the previously unfunded college students.
The SACP wishes to thank the ANC-headed Alliance, the first higher education and training Minister Cde Blade Nzimande, students and other progressive organisations for their activist role and dedication to the course. The SACP welcomes further expansion of access to higher education and training through accelerated roll-out of free education for students from poor and working class households.
On 16 December government announced a plan to broaden the scope of eligibility from an old to a new threshold further benefitting the working class. Students from households with a combined annual income of not more than R350 000 will accordingly be eligible for fully subsidised access to public higher education and training institutions with existing NSFAS packages converted from loans to 100 per cent grants for further years of qualifying study.
However, the issue of where the money will come from is of great importance and must be clarified as a matter urgency. The SACP is concerned about the silence of President Jacob Zuma on where the money will come from. We hope that this will not amount to increasing VAT or recklessly using workers' money either in the UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) or the PIC (Public Investment Corporation). Doing so will be tantamount to robbing the poor instead of fairly redistributing production income by taxing the rich and the wealthy to fund students from poor and working class background.
Last but not least, the fact that President Jacob Zuma appeared opportunistic and possibly harbouring other motives by making the announcement on the eve of the highly contested 54th National Conference of the ANC should not be allowed to subvert the importance of accelerated roll-out of free education to students from working class and poor households. Until the announcement, further expansion of access to higher education and training was held up by nothing other than structural underfunding of the higher education and training department.
ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP
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