The South African Communist Party takes this opportunity to congratulate the African National Congress on reaching the milestone of 105 years. The SACP wishes the ANC the best for many more years to come. One of the ANC's most important achievements was its ability to unite the African majority in our country. It is an achievement we dare not take for granted. The unity of the African people is the foundation upon which we will build a new South African nation.
We must not forget how many movements have been torn apart by internecine, inter-tribal and ethnic conflicts. South Africa needs the ANC, but indeed a united ANC and not a factionalised ANC. The SACP therefore wholeheartedly embracess the theme of 'Unity in Action' which must also include the unity of our Alliance, mass democratic formations and indeed the historical mass base of our struggle. Unity in action must mean dealing decisively with all the wrong things happening in our movement and not become just a cliche!
Millions of our people have benefited from access to human and workers rights; from access to free houses; from access to massive electrification, clean water, education, clinics and hospitals providing healthcare; from access to social grants; and from access to tarred roads and streets, among others. Many of these achievements were not provided to our people before our April 1994 democratic breakthrough.
But despite the progress we have made, there is still a lot of work to be done towards completing our shared national democratic revolution. While we have made massive social progress, structural economic weaknesses persist due a lack of radical economic transformation programme and this is holding further advances up. In addition, organisationally we are faced with a number of worrying challenges to overcome. We are also faced with external challenges of imperialism. But we must never cry imperialism as a cover for our own internal weaknesses or wrongdoing!
Inside our own movement we are faced with the destructive challenge of factionalism. Even more disturbing is that the factions have nothing to do with ideological or tactical differences on how best to achieve the objectives of our struggle. It is factionalism largely based on competition for control over organisational power and its use as a step ladder for access to and control over public power and resources and dispense patronage. Public resources include public office, state institutions and state-owned enterprises and associated appointments, contracts, tenders and mining or other business licenses. Factionalism or looting use public resources to push private corporate, personal, family and elitist interests, and as the base for corruption and maladministration. This is the entry point for corporate capture.
There is a very close relationship between factionalism and corruption, which is an instrument of looting. The two constitute the twin dangers facing the ANC and our Alliance. The SACP will continue to serve as a dependable, consistent and resolute force to stop these dangers in our struggle to successfully complete our liberation as a people and achieve social emancipation.
The SACP also wishes to fully associate itself with the celebration of the centenary of the birth of the late Comrade OR Tambo this year. The SACP will celebrate this centenary together with the Alliance. We need the exemplary leadership qualities of Comrade OR in abundance today: selfless dedication, revolutionary moral high ground and political integrity, fostering of unity, respect for the people and safeguarding of the unity of our movement and political base as whole.
The SACP will also celebrate the revolutionary contribution of Comrade OR in its own right as part of honouring the role that he played in strengthening the alliance between the ANC and the SACP. We dare not gamble with this relationship or take it for granted, in memory of Comrade OR.
In the same vein, let us work together to combat tendencies such as bulk buying of membership, gate-keeping, distortion and contraction of space for internal organisational democracy, social distance from the mass and membership base and corporate capture within the movement and the state. Weak or absent political education is a fertile ground for these tendencies, because they stand a better chance to thrive among those who received less or at all no political education. We therefore need to strengthen political education to safeguard our movement and build its capacity to successfully lead the national democratic revolution.
Together we must tackle the parasites involved in corporate capture and their other actions, such as the funding of factions in return for favours, contracts, tenders and mining or other business licenses. The success of the destructive axis of corporate capturers and factionalists will inevitably result in a failure and collapse of the ANC as the main mass political organisation of our liberation movement. It is often said that most liberation organisations did not survive in power after 20 years of a breakthrough from colonialism to independence. But the reasons, where that happened, have not sufficiently been studied to examine what went wrong. The failure of liberation movements is not an inevitability.
The SACP is therefore urging the ANC to strengthen its capacity to learn from the experiences of those liberation organisations that declined after ascending to power, in order to prevent repeating the same mistakes. It is also important to learn from our own experience. Already in our country there is evidence of a negative slope from power, as the decline during the last local government elections clearly show. While it is true that the ANC received aggregate majority vote country-wide, it cannot be denied that it has declined significantly, to the extent that it has lost control not only of three metropolitan municipalities but also of several local municipalities. In the Western Cape, our ANC-headed electoral strategy lost once, notably at the provincial level and in the Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality, and since then never returned to power.
There is no doubt that as Alliance formations and the ANC we have diagnosed what organisational problems and objective factors lay behind this declining hard-won democratic hegemony. We have just highlighted some of the issues. The biggest failure lay in weak or absent decisive action and self-correction to solve the problems and achieve a turnaround.
To reflect on the 105 years of the ANC, correctly celebrating its achievements primarily in alliance with the Communist Party and the progressive trade union and civic movements, but burying our heads in the sand from its new challenges, will only satisfy our hearts’ content. What we need, in addition to celebrating our collective achievements, is decisiveness in solving new problems and overcoming contemporary challenges. It is this together with celebrating and defending our achievements that will ensure that the ANC and the Alliance live long.
In uniting the African people the ANC was also able to deal with the malady of tribalism. The ANC must therefore not leave out the resurgence of ethnicity in studying the experiences of other liberation movements that declined some years after ascending to power. If it was to be allowed to rebound in South Africa, as elsewhere ethnic mobilisation will erode organisational and then national unity. It will destroy the effort to strive for our common project of democratic social transformation and emancipation.
Nothing against our national democratic revolution must be allowed within the ranks of our movement.
Everything must be for the revolution and not against it. No private corporate, personal, family, or elitist interests must be allowed to substitute our shared struggle to complete the national democratic revolution. While ensuring that we carry out this task successfully, it is equally important to avoid the danger of being inward looking.
We must unite behind the necessity to move our shared national democratic revolution on to a second, more radical phase:
As we agreed at our last Alliance Political Council meeting, we must do all our best to work together to elaborate its strategic tasks and policy thrust. Our Party’s 14th National Congress in July and the ANC’s 54th National Congress in December make 2017 an important policy year in our Alliance, broader movement and society. We must use the opportunity to unite behind a principled common programme of the national democratic revolution to solve the problems facing our people and overcome their challenges. The national democratic revolution must change everything that must be changed. This is what will characterise it as a revolution.
Consistent with its character the revolution must be based on the mobilisation of the people to take part in it and to push it forward in the same way as it is the people through our collective struggle who dislodged the apartheid regime in 1994.
The revolution is for the people:
Their majority are the workers, the unemployed and poor. As the SACP we pledge to continue doing our best and to intensify our historical mission of mobilising and uniting the working class in alliance with progressive social forces behind the revolution.
The second, more radical phase of the national democratic revolution must address and finally resolve the pressing conditions facing the people, among others class, racial and gender inequalities, unemployment and poverty. This requires, at the centre of our strategy, that we implement radical economic transformation in order to succeed.
Without a radical economic transformation to systematically eliminate the colonial and apartheid legacy of our economy and do away with imperialist domination there is no way we will succeed in tackling the capitalist-borne problems of inequality, unemployment, poverty.
It is in this context that while public resources are struggling to meet the ever expanding demands of the people who are in need of, and who cannot afford access to social services such as education, health and a comprehensive social security, there are people who are smiling all the way to the bank like the Guptas as new top Black billionaires, and like the old order club of a few rich people and billionaires such as the Oppenheimers, Wieses, Ruperts and Bekkers. It is in this same context that monopoly capital is expatriating billions of money out of our economy in the form of profit to imperialist metropoles.
This is why we cannot assess economic and social progress on the basis of how many billionaires our economy has produced. The millions of the unemployed and poor are deriving no benefit from such a thing - in one word inequality - while the employed working class especially in the private sector continues to be exploited in wage slavery.
The best way to measure economic and social progress is human centred – it is the improvement of the life of the majority of the people!
The ANC, which in its Strategy and Tactics document defines itself as a disciplined force of the left and as biased towards the working class, needs to strengthen its focus on uplifting the quality of life of the workers and poor!
The SACP wishes the ANC a success in this journey of struggle and pledges to continue acting as a resolute force and dependable ally in the struggle for revolutionary democratic transformation!