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Launching statement of the Red October Campaign 2018-2019 as delivered by Comrade Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary

8 October 2018

Stop corruption. Serve the people selflessly.

Let us make local government work for the people; deliver quality services to all!

Condolences to the families of Edna Molewa and Rowena Baird

As we launch our 2018-2019 Red October Campaign, let us begin by expressing our most sincere condolences to the families, comrades and colleagues of Edna Molewa, and Rowena Baird of SAFM.

Campaign background and overall context

Today as the SACP we are launching the 2018-2019 Red October Campaign. Our aim, as our strategic focus states, is to "ůmake local government work for the people; deliver quality services to all". There are many problems that we have identified. This campaign is focusing on at least two of the major problems. The first is the problem of systemic and rampant corruption, including corporate capture within our municipalities. The second is the problem of lack of efficiency, and the persisting inequality in infrastructure development, as well as in the provision of quality services. This is why our mobilising theme for this campaign is: "Stop corruption. Serve the people selflessly."

The patterns of apartheid human settlement persist. These are centred not only on the colonial-apartheid racial segregation and its stubborn legacy. It is a fact that the class divisions that were created by capitalism, the system of production that was imposed by colonialism in our country, remain an entrenched reality. The social inequalities that this system of economic exploitation produced are there for all to see in every municipal area.

Our human settlement patterns are still divided between previously disadvantaged areas, as a continuing reality, and areas where the rich, the well-off and high income categories live. These class divisions are not rolling back. They are, on the contrary, deepening. We need a local government system that is capable of reversing this situation. This is a system capable of delivering on our vision for a non-racial and non-sexist society, based on non-exploitative individual and shared collective prosperity.

Working class communities, which are predominantly poor, are the most affected by the problems we have just mentioned. These include rural areas, townships, peri-urban areas, informal settlements or squatter camps, and overcrowded and decaying inner cities. The working class is ravaged by unscrupulous evictions mainly in the cities. The majority of the people affected by the problems are Black people. Under-development persists, notwithstanding the commendable progress that we have achieved since our April 1994 democratic breakthrough. The problems in areas like Westbury, Manenberg, Mitchells Plain, Wentworth, and so on, are less of the so-called Coloured problems than working class problems. These are problems afflicting working class and poor communities across the country. What is needed is a completely non-racial approach both in the media reportage and concretely on the ground in tackling these social problems.

Differently, ivory tower suburbs housing the rich, the golf estates meant for them, and settlements for the well-off and high income categories do not experience similar problems. They enjoy varying levels of the best infrastructure and high quality services. These include tarred or paved streets, sanitation systems, storm water drainage systems, lighting, municipal parks, and well-resourced libraries as well as schools. Increasingly, there are buffer zones separating the rich and well-off areas from the poor with access control. This post-1994 class segregation has taken the form of gated communities, linked with high levels of social insecurity which continue to rise.

Again working class communities are the worst affected by the crisis of social insecurity. Crime has taken its toll. Almost everyone, and not only the rich and the well-off in gated communities, increasingly live in fear. Violence, and gender based violence in particular, has entrenched. Girls and women in working class and poor communities are the most affected. Patriarchy remains a serious problem across the board and worse in rural municipalities. Women workers in both rural and urban municipalities suffer varied forms of abuse at work, including in air-conditioned office spaces.

Local government challenges

The current system of our local government, particularly the regime of "municipal own revenue" is based on an ideal economy.

That is, a vibrant economy with a strong revenue base characterised by high levels of employment and therefore a low unemployment rate, as well as a low number of indigent households that require basic services provided free of charge. The situation that many municipalities face is completely different. It is characterised by concrete realities that are diametrically the opposite of the ideal economy assumed by the regime of "municipal own revenue".

Millions of South Africans are poverty-stricken. According to a report entitled "Overcoming poverty and inequality in South Africa: An assessment of drivers, constraints and opportunities", produced by a collaboration involving the National Planning Commission, Statistics South Africa and others, poverty levels in our country are consistently highest among female-headed households, Black people, the less educated, the unemployed, large families, children, and in rural areas. This report was published in March this year. A different report released by Statistics South Africa examining absolute poverty between 2006 and 2015 found that 30 million South Africans live under the yoke of poverty. Three out of five Black South Africans are trapped in poverty.

The levels of unemployment remain structurally high. The Labour Force Survey, produced by Statistics South Africa on 31 July this year, shows that the official unemployment rate increased by 0.5 per cent in the second quarter, and reached 27.2 per cent compared to the first quarter. The so-called official unemployment rate is actually narrow. It does not include discouraged work seekers. The expanded unemployment rate which includes them is much higher. It also rose by 0.5 per cent in the second quarter but to a higher level of 37.2 per cent quarter-to-quarter.

In addition, the exploitation of workers by capitalist bosses has deepened. The share of labour income in South Africa plummeted since 1982. It has generally remained stagnant despite a negligible recovery during some years after 2007. The shift that was adopted by capitalist bosses, from permanent to precarious employment relationships, including labour brokering, casualisation and other temporary employment strategies characterised by peanut wages and no benefits, has contributed in no small measure to the fall in worker income and deeper exploitation of labour. While the exploiters have been walking all the way to the bank smiling, the working poor and poor families in general spend most of their income particularly on food, as well as on transport to and from work. They therefore do not afford other products and services - including municipal services - necessary for their developmental needs.

This is the context in which the millions of the working poor, not to speak of the unemployed, have hefty municipal debts. It is in this same context that many municipalities are in structural distress, owe Eskom, and the debt is sky-high. This is therefore a consequence not only of the undesirable bad governance, mismanagement and lack of capacity in municipalities. Many municipalities have been economically stagnant. They have been unable to grow their revenue. It may as well be that others have been in a full-blown recession (or a depression?) relative to the recently declared technical recession of our national economy.

We must vigorously confront all of these and other challenges that municipalities are faced with, and we must do so entirely without fear or favour.

The way forward: What is to be done?

We must dismantle the networks of corporate capture, parasitism and corruption in general in our municipalities. This task includes tackling governance decay, mismanagement and lack of capacity - which is not inherent in many instances. There are situations where recruitment is used as an instrument to dispense patronage, instead of appointing staff on the basis of merit, taking into account required educational and skills capacity underpinned by unquestionable commitment of service to the people.

It is a fact that there are positions occupied by individuals with no capacity to perform the work they are required to carry out. In other instances there are individuals who do nothing but outsource their work. THE ROT MUST COME TO AN END. Those who are corrupt, both in government and in the private sector, must be dealt with decisively in terms of the law. Long prison sentences must be imposed. If the law does not provide for this at present, then it must be reviewed to make it possible to resolutely fight corruption.

The SACP is calling for an urgent review of tenders in municipalities, with a strong emphasis on in-sourcing and building co-operatives. This imperative should have been implemented a long time ago, especially considering that it is a key priority in the previous elections manifestos of the ANC as endorsed by the Alliance. We cannot go to the next elections without implementing this and other priorities central to the needs of the overwhelming majority of our people, which is the working class. It is important to remain true to our commitments and loyal to the people. THIS IS AN ATTRIBUTE OF A RECONFIGURED ALLIANCE.

There are many unnecessary tenders created in our government. These are used to loot tax payers` resources and enrich tender lords and their collaborators in government structures and state owned entities. The conditions of many workers employed under the tenders, used to outsource municipal work and state functions, are appalling. THIS MUST COME TO AN END. Decent work must rise. As the SACP we say: PHAKAMA DECENT WORK - NAMELELA DECENT WORK.

The recently announced stimulus package, albeit largely reprioritisation, should be used to tackle the uneven development that exists between rural and urban municipalities. Infrastructure development in under-developed and disadvantaged municipalities must unfold in earnest, both as a strategic programme and an apex priority. This must be linked with production development, including manufacturing, in order to give practical expression to the right and the duty of every person to work and contribute to the wellbeing of society. It is important to deepen skills training as part of the development of our national productive forces and therefore capacity. This must take into account the state of the art technological development and its impact on the future of work.

There must be a review of our municipal system and model of service delivery in order to build a capable developmental local government system that is responsive to the specificities of every municipal area. If necessary the number, layers and size of municipalities must be reviewed. The SACP will lead the development of a working class input on this question. We do need a national debate on this matter.

Further, we need to build the widest possible patriotic and popular left fronts. Improving local government and ensuring quality services for all should form part of the focus of this work. An inseparable part of this imperative is to build a progressive women`s movement. The fight against patriarchy and gender based abuses must be carried out in all areas and sectors of our society to the finish. This is a struggle that must be waged by all, regardless of gender.

A progressive women`s movement, however, is an indispensible necessity among the primary moving forces required to deliver a resounding defeat to patriarchy. The systemic conditions that push women to the back, and keep them at the bottom, must be rolled back. We must combat elitist tendencies without regard to gender in order to secure victory against patriarchy and eliminate social inequalities. Complete social emancipation is impossible without an end to the exploitation of labour by capital, without an end to patriarchy, without end to gender based abuses. Let us carry on the struggle for the real equality of all.

Last month the working class achieved a court victory, led by Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation acting as a friend of the court. For many years, commercial banks and their collaborators in our civil and criminal justice system unscrupulously evicted working class families from their houses. Some of these houses were sold for as low as R10 and R100. This was both because of corruption and the absence of no reserve price on the auction of houses sold under foreclosure. On 12 September, the South Gauteng High Court correctly ordered that there must be a reserve price set by the court under such a condition after taking into account the submissions not only of the banks but also of the affected families.

Let us deepen the struggle to bring an end to unscrupulous evictions. A household that is affected by foreclosure must be paid the entire difference of the balance of the bond and the value at which its house is sold. This must take into account, we must insist, the value of the house and the total value of the payments that the affected family has made towards it. There must also be alternative accommodation provided in terms of our law. Further, there is no reason why the banks must make insurance claims after receiving the balance of the bond from the sale of the house.

Let us go and work for a resounding electoral victory in the 2019 elections for our movement and people in particular under the principle of a reconfiguration Alliance process. Let us make this very clear. Our preparation for the 2019 elections is guided by, and is already taking place under a reconfigured Alliance process.

What does this mean?

The answer is simple and straight forward:

There will be no other alternative but to forge a working class electoral contest of future elections if the Alliance is eventually not reconfigured, taking into account that the reconfiguration is a process rather than an event. It is therefore crucial to build a popular left front to assert the immediate interests and aims of the working class, and to take care of the future. This is why, in July 2017 at the 14th Congress of the SACP as a working class Party, we resolved to forge the front - both in order to advance, deepen and defend the second radical phase of the national democratic revolution, the shortest road to socialism in our country`s historical circumstances, and as an option for future electoral purposes if in the end the Alliance is not reconfigured.

Let us build a strong SACP to take up community struggles and build working class leadership power

What does this mean?

Let us build strong SACP branches on the ground.

What is a strong SACP branch?

A strong SACP branch holds its general meetings monthly without fail, holds fortnightly political classes or discussions, and consistently takes up people`s local problems through, among others, the Know and Act in Your Neighbourhood Campaign. The campaign involves regular door-to-door engagements. It must be a permanent feature of the work of all SACP branches.

SACP branches must convene community meetings, in their own right, among others to facilitate discussions on the way forward based on the findings of the Know Your Neighbourhood Campaign. This must ideally be done in consultation and collaboration with our Alliance partners. However, no SACP branch must ask for permission to convene a community meeting from any other structure, even alliance partners. This is important in order to ensure the independent functioning of the SACP and implement its historical mission to develop working class leadership and working class solutions to working class problems.

Further, SACP branches must be in the forefront in insisting and ensuring that councillors hold quarterly community meetings.

SACP structures must focus on the training and development of cadres capable not only of working inside the Party but also in our mass movement, including in particular our allied formations. This should include capacity building to take forward the strategic task of building patriotic and popular fronts on the ground as part of taking up community struggles.

SACP districts should assist branches in mobilising resources to carry out their tasks. In fact this is a very important area of the work for the Party as a whole in support of our immediate aims to complete the national democratic revolution and deepen the advance to socialism.

ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP

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