|Ninety-two years of communist proud and heroic struggle|
By Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary
This week our Party, the South African Communist Party (SACP) – formerly the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) between 1921 and 1950 – celebrates its 92nd anniversary since its founding in Cape Town on 31 July 1921. Our Party was formed partly as a direct inspiration of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia in 1917, though preceded by the formation and existence of the International Socialist League (ISL), formed in 1915. The formation of our Party was occasioned by the coming together of a number of socialist, communist and radical labour groupings inside South Africa, with the ISL at its core, thus constituting the very first Communist Party on the African continent.
This 92nd anniversary comes exactly a year after the conclusion of our highly successful and united 13th Congress held at Ngoye University at Empangeni near Richards Bay. Our clarion call from that Congress was that communists, acting together with their allies in the ANC and COSATU, must take responsibility for the national democratic revolution. This means that, as part of the revolutionary forces of our country, we must take responsibility for both, on the one hand, the advances and victories, as well as, on the other hand, the challenges and weaknesses, in our revolution. As South African communists we must never act as opportunists in our revolution, claiming and boasting about our victories, but behaving as outsiders to the revolution when it comes to its difficulties and problems.
Our 92nd anniversary also comes some seven months after a historic 53rd Conference of the African National Congress in Mangaung. This conference will be marked by, amongst other things, the rolling back and defeat of a tenderpreneuirial tendency, whose objective was an attempt to capture the ANC as an instrument for accumulation for those in leadership position at the direct expense of the principles of our revolution, that of changing the conditions of the majority of our people for the better.
We are justly celebrating 92 years of heroic communist struggle and activism in a period where communists are indeed in all key sites of struggle in the consolidation and deepening of our national democratic revolution. Communists are to be found in the forefront of many mass and workers struggles in broader society – in the trade union movement, in civic struggles, and in progressive NGOs. At the same time communists are to be found inside the state – in parliament, in government and in many other state agencies where they are proudly serving a democratic South Africa to consolidate our revolutionary gains. Communists are living our mantra, that of using both our mass and state power to consolidate our revolution.
Our detractors and enemies are goading us to go it alone and abandon the ANC-led Alliance, as if our struggle and that of the overwhelming majority of our people was simply about an electoral contest. Yes electoral contestation is absolutely central in the current period, but it was never about an electoral contest amongst our alliance formations in the current period. Instead it was using the electoral platform to consolidate and unite the Alliance and all progressive forces in order to use state power to advance a national democratic agenda.
The call by our enemies and detractors for communists to stand alone in election is, in its essence, not a new one. The entire apartheid agenda was that of trying to isolate communists from the broader national liberation movement. In fact, the racist apartheid regime, tried to win international friends and imperialist backers by projecting itself as part of the anti-communist forces globally. It sought to translate this cheap strategy by trying to consistently drive a wedge between the ANC and the SACP. This strategy failed spectacularly because the majority of our people saw this for what it was – an attempt at a divide and rule strategy to try and defeat the national liberation movement.
Therefore today’s call for the SACP to stand alone in elections, often accompanied by attempts to goad COSATU to position itself as anti-ANC, is a continuation of the same apartheid strategy in the post 1994 conditions! The anti-majoritarian liberal offensive is trying very hard to re-define independence as meaning anti-ANC and anti-government. It is indeed unfortunate that a small section within our own movement has fallen for this bait, thus seeking to define the independence of COSATU and the SACP as meaning attacking and criticizing the ANC and the government it leads. As we celebrate 92 years of the SACP, we shall not be fooled by this old-age divisive strategy of racists and their liberal fellow travellers! Instead we want to say as South African communists, NEVER again shall we allow racists and opportunistic (white) liberals ever to rule our country! Instead, as South African communists, acting together with our allies, we have not only been part of the victorious forces over the criminal, racist apartheid regime, but we will intensify our own struggle against the evil capitalist system and its racist and partriarchal twin partners!
South African communists are proudly celebrating their 92 years of heroic struggles, a year before our fourth national democratic elections. It is also a year before the celebration of 20 years of a democratic South Africa. For us as South African communists, this is a period to also celebrate the many advances made by the ANC-led government in improving the conditions of the overwhelming majority of our people. The housing, electrification, provision of water and sanitation for the majority of South Africans far surpasses the centuries of colonial and apartheid occupation of our country. The expansion of both basic and higher education for our people over the last 20 years far surpasses the more than 40 years of criminal, racist apartheid rule. For example, the fact that our democratic government is going to be spending more than R6 billion rand in loans and bursaries for university and college education is a truly unsurpassed achievement by the ANC government. That the Zuma administration has raised, within four years, life expectancy by more than 3 years is an astonishing achievement. Much more importantly is that South African communists have been part of all these achievements.
Our own SACP has embarked on important campaigns that have notched important victories. Our land and agrarian campaign led to a national land summit in the mid-2000s that led to the rejection of the ‘willing buyer, willing seller model’ of land reform. The SACP’s financial sector campaign, launched in 2000, has led to important gains made in the regulation of the financial sector, including the regulation of the Credit Bureaux, including credit amnesty for the workers and the poor.
Most of the bourgeois and white-owned media has done everything to try and hide the very enormous advances made by the ANC government over the last 20 years, including positive gains made under the Zuma administration over the last four and half years. The above are but some of the gains made by the ANC in government.
Of course, as the SACP we are acutely aware of the many challenges that face our country, principally around unemployment, inequality and poverty. However our approach to these is that we need to build on our achievements in order to tackle whatever challenges we have. We shall remain part of the forces that are willing to play their role in tackling the problems facing our revolution.
It is for the above and other reasons that as we celebrate 92 years of the SACP, we are also calling upon the people of our country to come out and vote overwhelmingly for the ANC in the coming 2014 elections. The ANC remains the only organization that is best capable of serving the interests of the overwhelming majority of our people. The ANC has proven this in practice through its policies and achievements in government.
All the above advances must be built upon as part of driving the second phase of our transition as resolved by the Mangaung conference of the ANC. The SACP remains part of this revolutionary duty as it celebrates its 92 years of heroic struggle for national liberation and socialism. We remain focused on the intensification of the struggle to deepen the national democratic revolution as our most direct route to socialism.