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The annual augmented Central Committee of the SACP took place in Randburg from the 26 -28 November. The augmented CC is, as the name suggests, an expanded CC that includes representation from the SACP’s districts, the Young Communist League’s provincial structures, and from institutions that the Party has jointly established – among them the Chris Hani Institute and the Financial Sector Charter Campaign. The annual augmented CC enables the SACP to collectively review the past year and to prepare for the next.
In reviewing 2010 the CC highlighted a number of key positive developments.
The ANC NGC
In the first place, the CC saluted the achievements of the ANC’s October National General Council. We particularly welcomed the robust but disciplined manner in which the overwhelming majority of ANC branch delegates affirmed the key themes advanced by ANC President Cde Jacob Zuma in his opening and closing addresses to the NGC. We believe there is now a clear determination on the part of the ANC and its membership to re-assert the historic values, discipline and strategic perspectives of the ANC and the movement it leads. In affirming these positions, the NGC raised exactly the same issues that the SACP’s December 2009 Special National Congress firmly placed on the national agenda. Collectively we need to address the dangers of a reckless demagogic populism. We need to guard against factional power plays within our movement, based on narrow self-enrichment agendas. And we need to condemn disgraceful displays of conspicuous consumption, not least those that degrade women.
Continued membership growth and Party activism
The CC also welcomed the growing influence, activism and membership of the SACP and Young Communist League. The SACP’s membership has grown by a further 20,000 members this year, bringing our total membership to 114,600 – confirming the SACP as the second largest political party in South Africa (after the ANC) in terms of active paid-up membership. Among the highlights of SACP work during 2010 has been the convening of ongoing political education workshops, many of them convened jointly with COSATU affiliates, countrywide and at all levels from the local level up.
The YCL – a vanguard youth formation
The YCL has also emerged ever more firmly as a vanguard youth formation, bringing a militant but disciplined coherence into a sector that is now often characterised by volatile, anarchic tendencies. Among the highlights of the YCL’s year was its convening of a Jobs for Youth Summit that drew in participation from over 50 formations, and included youth from the ANCYL, SASCO, COSAS, faith-based formations, and also, notably and encouragingly, from the DA, FF+ and IFP formations. The crisis of youth unemployment is a matter that needs to be taken up by all South Africans. The CC urged the YCL to take forward its constructive work in this critical youth sector, and wished it well for its National Conference in Mafeking in mid-December.
The SACP - taking joint and collective responsibility for governance
The growing influence of the SACP has also been marked by the increasing appointment of communist cadres (in their own right as ANC cadres, of course) into key positions within government, in the national, provincial and local spheres. While the SACP does not measure its successes in narrow head-count terms, and while we are committed to the principle of deployments being based, above all, on capacity, commitment and a proven track-record, we are nonetheless heartened by deployment developments over the past year.
The SACP has never conceived of itself as a non-governmental organisation. In the current reality of SA, the SACP, together with its Alliance partners, is committed to building popular and working class power both outside of and WITHIN the state. In line with this commitment to take joint and collective responsibility for governance, the CC strongly re-affirmed decisions taken by the Party in regard to the deployment of its leadership (including its general secretary) nationally, provincially and locally. The CC also once more reaffirmed the Party’s commitment to building leadership collectives, and avoiding all attempts to reduce the question of leadership to individual personalities.
The New Growth Path
A key achievement of 2010 has been government’s consolidation and public release of a New Growth Path perspective. Minister for Economic Development, Cde Ebrahim Patel, presented government’s NGP document to the CC. The CC warmly welcomed the major paradigm shift represented by the NGP and government’s earlier announcement of the Industrial Policy Action Programme 2 (IPAP2).
While we should certainly debate the detail of both IPAP and the NGP, this time around we must not allow detail to distract us from consolidating and defending the absolutely critical policy and programmatic shift that these policies now begin to represent. In essence this shift is characterised by the following key features:
• An agreement that we have to radically transform the systemic features of our present productive economy;
• The key objective is not to achieve an arbitrary GDP growth target (for example, 6% or 7%), but job creation and greater equality;
• These outcomes can only be achieved through active state intervention in the economy – through, amongst other things, planning, state-led investment, and the consolidation of a strong, strategically-mandated SOE and DFI sector. This will require the consolidation of a new state-owned bank, and generally a strategically-disciplined, democratic state capable of driving a state-led but people-driven transformation process.
• The imperative of aligning macro-economic policies with our industrial policy and other productive economy objectives.
• The imperative of state-led coordination of and between critical sectors of society – e.g., the productive economy, education and skills training, infrastructure development and environmental sustainability.
• As much as possible, our redistributive interventions, including BBBEE, must also contribute coherently to the progressive transformation of the productive economy – for example, land redistribution can no longer simply be guided by principles of civil rights and historical redress (as important as these might be).
• The achievement of a new growth path will not be possible without also addressing the way in which SA has historically been located within the global capitalist system as a semi-peripheral primary commodity exporter and regional sub-imperial power – “a (capitalist) gateway to Africa”. The achievement of a NGP in SA will depend critically on our ability to play a progressive role in the reconstruction and development of our region. It will also depend on our ability to manoeuvre strategically within the context of major structural shifts within the global reality, not least through deepening anti-imperialist South-South relations.
These, we believe, are the fundamental core features of a new growth path. It is important to recognise that government has deliberately called it a “path” and not a “plan” – it is a strategic direction that we need now to move along, learning and adapting as we proceed. Nothing is written in stone, other than the imperative of no longer delaying decisive action. Above all, we must not now turn government’s NGP into a debating forum. We need, from within and beyond government to begin, together, to actively and decisively take major steps to place our economy onto a new job-creating and more egalitarian path. We cannot wait any longer.
Global capitalism – a crisis that is not going away
2010 has underlined the correctness of what the SACP has been consistently saying – the global capitalist crisis that began in 2008 is deep-seated, structural in character and it will be long-lasting. Everywhere imperialist forces, private banks, and western governments are seeking to displace their crisis onto the backs of workers, the poor, and middle-class strata. Neo-liberalism’s anti-protectionist, free market presumptions lie in tatters as national capital interests scramble to save their own profits and life-styles. The US has cynically declared a currency war on the world with its so-called quantitative easing QE2 initiative – pushing an extra $600billion into circulation – that will further appreciate currencies like the Rand, threatening our own efforts to reverse de-industrialisation.
In the course of 2010, the epicentre of the crisis has also shifted to the Euro-zone. The danger of toppling dominoes impelled by creditor-driven sovereign defaults is very real. The crisis in the Euro-zone is seeing drastic and aggressive moves by centrist governments to roll back popular gains.
In the face of these developments, everywhere there is working class and popular resistance. Day by day, the objective grounds for developing a very broad anti-imperialist front are developing.
Next weekend, the SACP will be convening the 12th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties. Over 80 parties from all over the world have confirmed their participation. The meeting will focus on the global capitalist crisis and on the imperative of communists taking an active role internationally in turning the multitude of defensive struggles in every part of the world into an offensive struggle to roll back capitalism itself – it is a system that from every perspective, including being able to guarantee environmental sustainability, or decent work for all, or food security, increasingly demonstrates its threat to human civilisation itself.
Sixteen days of activism against violence against women and children
The SACP is actively engaged in the present “Sixteen Days of Activism”. We are a society in which patriarchy continues to be a deeply-entrenched challenge. Too often regressive male behaviour hides behind of cloak of “culture”. The SACP and the YCL are actively campaigning against reactionary customs like ukuthwala. The SACP, together with its allies, will be embarking on a campaign for the establishment of more shelters for the victims of gender violence. We encourage communities to continue speaking out against gender violence. While reports indicate that we are beginning to stabilise the number of new HIV infections, there is a need to intensify the HIV Counselling and Testing campaign with active community support.
The CC also received a report from the Minister of Police, cde Nathi Mthethwa. He briefed the CC on government’s strategic plans to combat crime and corruption. The CC engaged with the input, welcomed the progress made so far, and noted that it is the working class and poor in our country who are the principal victims of crime and corruption. Combating these evils is not just a matter for government, and the SACP once more commits to helping to strengthen the role of communities and the labour movement in this regard.
The SACP’s programme of action for 2011
The CC discussed and approved the SACP 2011 programme of action. The key pillars of this programme include:
• Revitalising the broad-based campaign for the transformation of the financial sector. After a period of stale-mate, recently, important progress has been made in the NEDLAC financial sector charter process thanks to a greater dynamism from the side of government. The SACP will be calling for a new Financial Sector Summit in 2011 convened by NEDLAC. The Party will be resuscitating the broad front Financial Sector Charter Campaign structures as well as convening public forums and seminars. Notwithstanding some progress with, for instance, extending banking services to everyone, gains made are constantly threatened by the profit-maximising interests of the private banks. There are, for instance, indications that at least some of the banks are planning to walk away from the Mzansi Account which achieved a remarkable 6 million new accounts within the space of a few years. Critical challenges in our struggle to transform the financial sector include the establishment of a state-run bank, cooperative financing, and the challenge of providing loans to working-class families for housing and for higher education fees for their children.
• Local government elections – the SACP will be participating integrally in the ANC-led election campaign, including in the development of the manifesto, and consolidation of local election structures. The CC received an input on the forthcoming campaign from ANC NWC member, cde Jessie Duarte.
• Deepening our work with the progressive trade union movement – including taking up the challenges of a consolidating an effective social wage for the working class especially in relation to housing, public transport, and the National Health Insurance, and linking these to COSATU’s living wage campaign. The SACP will also be expanding its joint political schools with COSATU affiliates.
• In the course of 2011, the SACP will continue to engage actively with its internationalist work, including ongoing solidarity efforts with Swaziland, Cuba, Western Sahara and Palestine. We will also convene on International Women’s Day (8 March) a continent-wide African Women’s Conference.