Delegates at the South African Communist Party (SACP) Congress held in July 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
SACP Central Committee press statement
25 August 2013
The Central Committee of the SACP met in Johannesburg over the weekend of 23-25 August 2013. The CC was meeting in the week before an all-important Alliance Economic Summit and in the midst of serious challenges within our alliance partner, COSATU. The first day of the CC was, accordingly, devoted to a secretariat political report that focused on this immediate context.
None of our domestic challenges can be adequately understood, still less responded to effectively, without locating ourselves in the midst of the persisting global capitalist crisis - the gravest crisis of its kind since the 1930s. In its first phase, beginning in 2007/8, the epicentre of the crisis was focused on the US financial sector, spreading rapidly into the Eurozone. SA was relatively cushioned through this first phase, thanks to continued strong, notably Chinese, demand for our industrial minerals.
The one mineral export exception was platinum - our major export market for this mineral being Europe. It is no accident, therefore, that it was to be the platinum sector in which the offensive against labour by the mining houses, and the attempt to undercut NUM, the largest of COSATU`s affiliates, was first felt. The major platinum mining houses have flirted with vigilante unionism, are looking to downsize, and use unprotected strikes to retrench as a useful means to cushion profits in a depressed market.
In 2012 a second phase of the globalised capitalist crisis struck. While stagnation and crisis continue to characterise the developed capitalist economies, the impact of the crisis has now spread to leading developing economies, including China, India and Brazil. The commodity super-cycle, driven in particular by China`s sustained growth, is now over. This has impacted significantly on major industrial mineral exporting economies - Brazil, Chile, Australia, and South Africa.
At the same time, the US administration`s attempts to re-float their economy, partly through quantitative easing (the "printing" of billions of dollars of cheap money) has had hugely negative effects on developing economies like SA, with excessively liberalised financial controls, and relatively high interest rates. Cheap "hot" money has flooded into SA in pursuit of quick profits based on the differential between interest rates in the US and SA. This in turn resulted in an excessively over-valued rand, impacting on the competitiveness of our exports, including our manufacturing and agro-processing sectors which had begun to see some progress, as a consequence of our state-led industrial policy actions, and other state-led interventions.
When the US Federal Reserve hinted earlier this year that quantitative easing might be tightened up, this "hot" money then poured out of SA (and many other economies in a similar situation) for "safer havens". This, then, plunged the Rand down to equally unrealistic levels - with a serious impact upon the cost of imports (notably oil) and our balance of payments.
Meanwhile, the domestic investment strike by South African monopoly capital largely continues - epitomised, in particular, by SASOL`s recent announcement that it will be investing (in practice, disinvesting) some R200bn in Louisiana, USA. This is the largest FDI investment in the history of the US! In 2007, in the face of calls from the SACP, and a recommendation from a Treasury Task Team to impose a windfall tax on SASOL`s super-profits, Treasury and SASOL reached a compromise "gentlemen`s" agreement. Instead of a windfall tax, SASOL agreed to consider investing its massive profits (R24bn in 2012) in a new coal-to-liquid plant in Limpopo (Mafutha). Nothing has happened on this front. Instead South African-earned surplus is being disinvested out of our economy, exporting job-creation, enhanced energy security and re-industrialisation to the US!
In the Alliance Economic Summit next weekend, the SACP delegation will be calling for the imposition of a windfall tax on SASOL - so that at least some of its excessive profits are re-invested within our country. At the same time, the SACP will be raising the broader macro-economic challenges that have been dramatically exposed by the current situation. The 1996 GEAR macro-economic programme has excessively liberalised our financial markets and exchange controls, exposing us to massive disinvestment and making us excessively reliant on speculative capital flows. This makes for a volatile currency, and it undermines our industrial and agro-processing sectors. At the Alliance Economic Summit a serious discussion on re-calibrating our macro-economic policies has become ever more important.
State of the organised labour sector
This wider reality is also the context for correctly analysing the challenges within organised labour in SA, and particularly within our ally, COSATU. Everywhere, in the face of the persisting capitalist global crisis, the class offensive against organised labour has been intensified. Here in SA, the grave challenges of unemployment, poverty, and inequality are blamed on government and on the trade union movement and a supposedly "inflexible" labour market.
While the capitalist offensive blames both our democratic government and the labour movement, it also seeks to sharpen differences and conflicts between the ANC-led government and COSATU. Unfortunately, elements within COSATU have taken the bait.
The SACP has never argued that the ANC-led government is above criticism, or denied that there are many challenges, including the dangers of corporate capture, tenderpreneurship and corruption. Still less have we argued in favour of a narrow support for individual government leaders. The democratic government COLLECTIVE must be supported - but supported vigilantly and with constructive but robust criticism where necessary. What the SACP rejects is a narrow anti-government oppositionism that elevates an endless stream of anti-ANC, anti-government invective above a serious and unifying class-based struggle against monopoly capital and its hangers-on.
The CC expressed its full support for the struggle for a living wage currently being waged by NUM, NUMSA, SATAWU and others. The SACP greatly values its long-standing alliance with the progressive trade union movement in SA, and we celebrate the role that Communists have played in building militant unionism for more than eight decades in our country.
In the face of sustained provocation from some quarters, the SACP has steadfastly refused to become involved in the internal problems and disputes confronting our ally COSATU. We have consistently advanced a Hands Off Cosatu call. COSATU must be given the time and space to address its own internal difficulties, guided by its own constitution and experience.
None of this means that the SACP is a disinterested observer of the challenges confronting our ally COSATU. We see our role as being one in which we work together to analyse and deal with the underlying causes behind much of the factional challenges - notably, corporate capture of leadership elements by union investment arms, poaching of members in inter-affiliate competition, the weaknesses of COSATU as a federation in supporting difficult sectors, and weaknesses in terms of servicing members at the shop-floor level.
We call for the unity of COSATU - there is no problem that is bigger than COSATU itself. Only bosses will benefit from tensions, splits and walk-outs. We call for organisational renewal across COSATU and its affiliates - focused on the training of organisers and shop-stewards. We pledge to play an active role in building combined Alliance campaigns that unite the organised working class and the urban and rural poor.
The Farlham Commission and persisting violence in Marikana
Much has been made in the media about the Constitutional Court decision upholding a lower court`s judgment that there is no obligation on the state to carry the ongoing costs of legal fees for private parties participating in the Farlham Commission proceedings. It is, of course, unfortunate that there is now, at the very least, the appearance of imbalance in legal representation. But behind this situation is a wider question. We respect Judge Farlham, but we are concerned that the Commission of Investigation has been turned into a prolonged quasi-court proceeding, dominated by excessively well-paid senior advocates, some of them clearly grand-standing while clocking up billable hours. We would like to see the commissioners taking more direct and unmediated responsibility for examining the responsibilities of the various parties for the terrible tragedy, and for uncovering the underlying systemic factors.
Meanwhile, as the Farlham Commission drags on, AMCU has refused to sign the stability pact. Two AMCU members, charged with murder, were released last week on bail back into the Marikana community on grounds that they "might be called as witnesses to the Commission". Yesterday, we buried NUM shop-steward and SACP member, Mrs Madolo who was murdered in cold-blood. The reign of anarchy and fear prevails within the Marikana community. For the Marikana community living in chronic insecurity and fear there is a sense that they have been abandoned by the police. We call on the criminal justice system to be much more decisive in dealing with criminality and violence and to demonstrate at the highest level real commitment to assisting this terrorised community.
National Health Insurance
The CC received a report on progress being made in moving towards operationalizing the NHI and the first pilots for the NHI. The SACP has long supported the proposal for a comprehensive NHI, based on the principles of universal access and social solidarity. We salute the important resolutions taken by the ANC on the NHI at its 2012 Mangaung National Conference, and the fact that government is now moving ahead.
However, as we move to implement an NHI there is a well-funded push-back from the multi-billion rand private health-care industry which services a tiny minority of our population. Having lost the battle to scrap the idea of an NHI, the private health industry is now seeking to infiltrate itself into an NHI, hijacking and distorting its key principles.
In this regard, and in line with ANC resolutions, the SACP insists that:
The NHI must be a single payer and must be publicly administered. There must be no profit-seeking outsourcing of administration. Further flirtation with the idea of a multi-payer system must be stopped - such an approach will irreparably undermine the principle of universal access;
There must be no co-payments approach, in which costs are partly met by out of pocket payements.
Tax subsidies, essentially for those of us with access to medical aids, must be abolished
The NHI must be funded via general tax revenue on high-earning individuals, payroll-linked progressive contributions, and contributions by employers. No additional levies must be made through VAT, for instance, to fund the NHI.
Erosion of these principles will end up reproducing the very yawning inequalities in health-care provision in our society that we are seeking to eradicate.
August - Women`s Month
The CC devoted some time to discussing gender-based oppression and violence in our society. In particular we focused on the plight of working class women. The struggle for a non-sexist society, an integral part of any struggle for sustainable democracy and development, is in part about changing attitudes, a critical self-examination of personal behaviour and of family life. But the struggle is also about the objective social realities which exacerbate gendered oppression. Women from poor and working class communities are challenged by the weaknesses in our social security system, the absence of effective child-care facilities, poor public transport in townships, and a breakdown in many places of law and order and community cohesiveness. At the work-place, working women frequently encounter harassment and discrimination.
The CC commended the Department of Justice for the re-introduction of the Sexual Offences Courts.
A consistent struggle against behavioural, ideological and social factors reproducing gendered oppression must be waged. Amongst other things the SACP commits to struggling for a re-orientation of government`s expanded public works and community works programmes to more effectively align with the inspiring, but often unrecognised and unpaid volunteer work that hundreds of thousands of women (and men) in poor communities are daily undertaking through stokvels, faith-based NGOs, and other local associations, in providing community child-care services, in doing volunteer home-based care, and generally in helping to re-build communities living in distress.
The crises in Egypt and Syria
The CC commended the South African government for condemning the military coup in Egypt. Whatever the many mistakes and weaknesses of the Muslim Brotherhood-led Morsi government - it was democratically elected. The military coup and the subsequent horrific massacres have set back democratisation and development in Egypt, and plunged the country into a very dangerous situation. We condemn the role of the US and the reactionary Saudi regime for their support to the Egyptian military forces. By failing to roundly condemn the coup, the US and its European allies encouraged the Egyptian army in its belief that it had a green light for proceeding with its violent repression of its own citizenry.
In Syria a civil war, initially fomented by external forces including the US and its European allies, has spun wildly out of control, with a death toll now over 60,000. It is also impacting upon stability in neighbouring countries, in particular Lebanon. Ultra-conservative forces with the original backing of the US, steadfastly blocked attempts at a negotiated settlement, free of external manipulation. This past week the conflict has reached a new exceedingly dangerous point - with allegations of the use of chemical weapons. If such has happened it must be condemned without any ambivalence - however, using this as a reason for the further escalation of external imperialist involvement will not bring peace to the people of Syria and the region.
Issued by SACP
SACP Spokesperson - 082 226 1802