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SACP Free State Statement of the Provincial Executive Committee plenary session of the 7th Provincial Congress

13 June 2018

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Free State held its seventh Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) ordinary plenary session of its 7th Provincial Congress in Bloemfontein on 9th June 2018. The PEC received a presentation of alliance reconfiguration by a Central Committee (CC) member, comrade Frans Baleni. The PEC also received a political input by CC member, comrade Lechesa Tsenoli as well as the provincial political and organisational reports.

The meeting discussed both these important reports as well as a report presented by South African Local Government Association (SALGA) in the context of the Auditor-General audit findings on municipal finances.

Post-Nasrec political trends in the province

The PEC noted that the post-Zuma period has given rise to a new positive mood and hope in the liberation movement and society as a whole. The PEC agreed that the post-Nasrec orientation at a national level signal a plausible break with the downward trajectory that faced the movement and the country. The downward trajectory was occasioned by wanton looting of public resources by parasitic networks and factionalism in our movement. The situation however remains dire in some provinces such as the Free State. The ANC in the province is still plagued by high levels of factionalism and divisions in the post-Nasrec era.

The conduct of some leaders of the ANC in the province points to an orchestrated attempt to undermine the positive mood of the post Nasrec moment. These could reverse the prospects of rolling back the parasitic networks and associated factionalism that have weakened our movement and plunged our state institutions in chaos.

The distasteful insults directed at the ANC President by a leader and Mayor of Dihlabeng Municipality and the factional appearance and address by the regional chairperson of the ANC in Lejweleputswa at the KZN court appearance of comrade Zuma are not coincidental. The PEC calls for an investigation to ensure that the cost associated with ferrying people from the Free State to comrade Zuma`s KZN court appearance were not paid with tax payer`s money, in light of recent Auditor-General report that reveals deteriorating financial management in municipalities. The SACP continues to urge the ANC to act consistently against ill-discipline and factionalism whenever they rear their ugly head within its structures.

The PEC agreed on the need to insist on a principled and programmatic approach to strengthening and building a functional alliance in the province, taking into account the ongoing discussions on reconfiguration of the alliance. This includes continued coalition engagements to resolve all outstanding issues at Metsimaholo Local Municipality. The PEC also agreed to intensify building the independent profile of the party through a systematic organisational renewal process underpinned by mass work and campaigns. These will include working with trade union movement on focused attention on the rollout of National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot in Thabo Mofutsanyana and fighting against the outsourcing of health services to Buthelezi Ambulances across our health facilities.

The PEC committed to strengthen working relations with Cosatu in the interest of building working class unity in the build-up to its Provincial Congress. The SACP will encourage joint progrmames and campaigns with Cosatu post its Congress.

Reconfiguration of the alliance

The PEC welcomed and enthusiastically contributed to the enrichment of the discussion document on the reconfiguration of the alliance. The PEC agreed that the discussions on the reconfiguration of the alliance must be advanced simultaneously with and to supplement and intensify ongoing work on other elements of the 14th Congress resolution on state and popular power. To this effect, all Districts in the province will hold District Councils to engage and contribute to these foregoing discussions. These discussions will culminate into a consolidated provincial contribution to the roadmap process.

The PEC agreed that while acknowledging that the current mode of operations within the alliance is outdated, these discussions should aim to locate the working class at the forefront in pursuit of the national democratic struggles. It is imperative that the discussions are guided by current strategic tasks of the party and informed by concrete analysis of the concrete situation on the ground.

The land question and evictions in the province

The PEC agreed with the CC perspective on the need to anchor the radical land reform programme around the pillars of restitution, redistribution and land tenure security. Land reform should primarily benefit the working class and the poor. The PEC acknowledged the failure of the post-apartheid government to effectively drive land reform. The PEC also noted that the high levels of evictions in farms in the province and corruption such as the Gupta-led looting and marginalization of poor communities at Estina Vrede Farm feeds the resurgent agitation that characterise the discussions on the land question. The decline in the agricultural sector and high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality in the province compounds the challenges.

The PEC condemned the irresponsible and opportunistic encouragement of people to embark on reckless land grabs by some leaders and Mayors is the province.

The PEC welcomed the open and participatory processes initiated by parliament. The PEC agreed to mobilise our structures and communities to constructively engage with the process. The PEC believes the approach to land reform should be holistic and integrate considerations for provision of appropriate infrastructure, water and energy. The PEC further agreed to intensify the ongoing Party programme to fight against evictions at farms and bonded houses, led by the NGO Izwe Lethu- Le rona re batho.

State of municipalities in the Free State

The PEC received a detailed presentation from SALGA on the state of municipalities in the Free State, based on Auditor-General`s audit findings on municipal finances. The essence of the presentation is that most of the municipalities in the Free State are facing serious challenges including high debt levels, financial viability and sustainability problems. Most municipalities in the province are still characterised by apartheid era spatial planning- which is also reflected in the patterns of paying service- with working class and poor communities located in the periphery and often poorly services.

The view of the PEC is that the high levels of irregular, unauthorised and fruitless expenditure across our municipalities exposes the extent to which governance has been systematically collapsed. This appears done deliberately to facilitate corruption and the looting of state resources for the benefit of parasitic networks in the province. The limited to lack of consequences for the collapse in municipal finances and service delivery despite consistent and repeated transgression revealed by Auditor General is indicative of a continuing culture of looting with impunity. Failure by 13 of our municipalities to respond positively to back to basics support given to them reinforces the existence of this culture. All these, in the view the PEC confirms the "leadership`s involvement in decision-making that led to transgressions" as pointed out by the Auditor-General.

The PEC views as unacceptable the high levels of debt by Free State municipalities to bulk service providers such as electricity and water. The PEC calls for urgent intervention by COGTA. These debts are spiraling out of control posing major risks to stability since money meant for service delivery has to be redirected towards servicing debts and interests.

The working class is at the receiving end of this cycle of looting with impunity. Workers` salaries are often paid late and failure to pay statutory obligations such as third party payments for pension funds and medical covers is rife in some municipalities in the province such as Maluti-a-Phofung, Matjhabeng, Mafube, Mohokare etc. Equally, our communities suffer from the continuing deterioration in service delivery across our municipalities.

The PEC calls on COGTA in the province as well as municipalities across the province to address the root causes of lack of accountability, internal controls and performance failures. These should include instituting criminal prosecution where acts of corruption are uncovered followed by removal and subsequent recovery of lost resources from those responsible. The PEC also calls for urgent proactive measures to ensure effective and sustainable monitoring and oversight to arrest the deteriorating state of our municipalities by responsible entities such as municipal councils, COGTA and Treasury, including by the ruling party.

ISSUED BY THE SACP FREE STATE PROVINCE

Contact:

Bheke Stofile - SACP Free State Provincial Secretary
Mobile: 071 600 4899

Phillip Kganyago - SACP Free State Provincial Spokesperson
Mobile: 071 896 0157

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