Skip to main content

From the International Movement: Declaration from the recent South African Communist Party 14th Congress

Many Portside readers follow developments in the international socialist movement, including recent developments in South Africa. Here is the declaration from the recently concluded Congress of the South African Communist Party. Some readers may find it a hopeful sign of the SACP's returning to its role as a critical partner in the governing coalition with COSATU in the governing coalition. Others may feel that the SACP is not being critical enough. What do you think?

Marchers in Pretoria demand the President’s resignation, from the April 2017 issue of Umsebenzi, journal of the South African Communist Party.,
We, 1, 819 Communist militants, have met over the past five days as delegates to the SACP's 14th National Congress in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. We are drawn from over 7, 000 SACP branches from across our country and from the ranks of the Young Communist League of South Africa. As delegates, we represent 284, 554 SACP members. Five years ago, at our 13th National Congress, we proudly announced that our membership had grown massively to over 150, 000. We have nearly doubled once again. We are well aware that this surging popularity of the Party imposes responsibilities upon all of us.
Our Congress occurs at a time when South Africa's monopoly-dominated capitalist economy, with its colonial and apartheid legacy features, continues to reproduce crisis levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty - all of which are strongly marked by racial, gendered and spatial features. At this Congress we have taken resolutions which both reaffirm our principled strategic posture as well as advancing specific interventions that need to be undertaken.
We are reaffirming our strategic commitment to a radical second phase of the National Democratic Revolution as the most direct route to a socialist South Africa. To reinforce and give practical content to this strategic perspective we have also resolved on many specific interventions.
We have committed to working closely with our strategic ally COSATU to develop a common approach on a job-centred economic policy ahead of the convening of an urgent national Job Summit.
We have committed to fighting for radical land-reform through a major drive to expand black small-scale farming, facilitated through a land tax on absentee landlords and large farming operations. Land reform must also advance the democratisation of communal land tenure, including the abolition of patriarchal features that often underpin it.
We have called for the Competition Act to be reinforced to allow for the competition authorities to deal not just with market collusion, but also with market dominance by private monopoly capital. It is a dominance that is suffocating investment, job creation, cooperative and small business development and a new growth path that leads us to greater socialisation.
Our resolutions include a major re-orientation in the way in which we approach the transformation of our economic sectors. We need to move away from an excessive focus on private black ownership, to greater emphasis on empowering public and social ownership. Let us carry forward the Freedom Charter's clarion call that the mineral wealth of South Africa belongs to all who live in it. We reject, therefore, the idea that there should be a "free carry" percentage of mining company turn-over directed to BEE beneficiaries. Instead, we need to establish a sovereign national wealth fund so that the proceeds of our mineral resources benefit all South Africans, and not a few.
The interrelated crises of unemployment, poverty and inequality are also directly contributing to a further challenge to the most basic of citizen rights - individual and household safety and security. In particular there is a scourge of gender-based violence and even violence directed at the young. Congress has therefore resolved that our forthcoming Red October Campaign will be focused on community and work-place mobilisation against gender-based violence.
Our Congress is occurring at a time when our country is faced with the very dangerous reality that the important democratic and constitutional gains of the mid-1990s will be eroded. In particular there is the deep threat of wanton parasitic looting of public resources associated with "state capture". The 14th National Congress has acknowledged the leading role that the SACP has been playing from within the ANC-led alliance in exposing this parasitic-looting, and in giving a voice and a point of reference to millions of ANC members, supporters, veterans and stalwarts. The 14th National Congress has called on the newly elected Central Committee to expand this work, to provide leadership into the widest patriotic front in defence of our democracy and our country's national sovereignty. We have reaffirmed many key positions related to the fight against state capture - including for the immediate establishment of an independent judicial commission, for the early prosecution of those exposed by the growing flood of evidence, for the government to cut all business ties with families and corporations involved in parasitic looting, and for decisive interventions to restore transparent good governance in what have become the key targets for parasitic looting, our State Owned Enterprises and Public Corporations.
In the face of all of these challenges, we are well aware of the responsibilities placed on the entire cadreship of the SACP. The SACP is the most unified and the most stable of the formations within the ANC-led ruling alliance. We note this, not out of a sense of arrogance but with an appreciation of our responsibilities. We value our Party unity. We cherish our Party stability. But unity and stability cannot be achieved through inertia. We are committed to continuous organisational renewal in the light of the challenges of our time.
The SACP remains committed to strengthening and consolidating our ANC alliance. This will require a significant reconfiguration. Whether the ANC has the capacity to lead its own process of renewal, and whether it will be able to once more play the critical role of uniting itself and its alliance remains uncertain.
This Congress has therefore resolved that the SACP will continue to play a leading role in consolidating a popular front of working class and progressive forces to advance, deepen and defend our democracy and our national sovereignty.
We have resolved that our forthcoming Augmented Central Committee will consolidate a Road Map with indicative time-lines towards the consolidation of a popular front. The Road Map will include active engagement with our Alliance partners and a wide range of worker and progressive formations; the development of a common platform emerging from this process of engagement at all levels, national, provincial and local; and an active audit of the SACP's own organisational capacity.
After considerable debate at Congress, we have resolved that while the SACP will certainly contest elections, the exact modality in which we do so, needs to be determined by way of a concrete analysis of the concrete reality and through the process of active engagement with worker and progressive formations.
As delegates to this historic 14th National Congress we pledge to actively carry forward our resolutions. We commit to carry forward our vanguard role in our places of work, in our communities, in our places of learning, and in all other key sites of power. We commit to work with a sense of confidence but also humility in the service of the working class and poor.
As a patriotic South African party, we are also a party of internationalism. Our struggle is a struggle in solidarity with all of the exploited and oppressed.
As we rise today, we declare once more:
Latest edition of Umsebenzi, South African Communist Party