Thursday, January 07, 2016

SACP Statement on the Occasion of the 21st Anniversary Commemoration of the Death of Liberation Stalwart Comrade Joe Slovo
6 January 2016

As delivered by General Secretary Comrade Blade Nzimande

Today we are gathered here once more, as we do annually in commemoration of the death of Comrade Joe Slovo. We are doing this also in celebration of his revolutionary contribution in our struggle for national liberation and socialism.

Today we have come together at the time when the working class must step in and provide leadership to the problems and challenges that we are facing both as a movement and revolution.

There are pressing organisational and fundamental economic issues of social transformation that the working class must decisively tackle. The fate of the working class is in the hands of the working class itself and no one else. This role the SACP will play in as a party of the working class in mobilising the working class to give leadership to the situation.

Dear comrades,

It was during the occasion of the 20th commemoration anniversary of the death of Comrade Joe Slovo and celebration of his contribution to our struggle for national liberation and socialism, on 6 January 2015 at this same venue, that as the SACP we sharply raised our concerns about racist social media trolling and comments in internet-based media outlets such as the comment sections.

It was important for us as the SACP - the first political organisation to introduce the principle and practice of non-racialism in South African politics - to continue our vanguard leadership in this important area of economic, social and political life of our society.

We then called on media houses to reflect on the problem of racism in all its platforms and structures - including ownership, management control, newsrooms and content - and take full responsibility by dealing with the problem.

What was to follow?

A barrage of distortions of our position characterised most of the media and political responses. The concerns that we raised and the way forward we proposed to deal with the problem were distorted. We have reason to believe that some may have done so deliberately. Meanwhile, the problem continued.

It was only after a while that we saw some media houses taking correct decisions to deal with the abuse of comment sections in their internet-based news outlets. To this end some comment sections - which were or would otherwise have been used to post offensive and racist comments and spread hate speech - were entirely closed down.

There are still many internet-based media comment sections that nevertheless continue to accommodate comments that are racist, sexist, offensive and contain insults and hate speech. We called on and written to the South African Human Rights Commission to investigate the problem. We will consistently follow up with the commission in the interest of our constitutional vision of a non-racial South Africa!

If left unattended, racist internet trolling will cause other, and much bigger, problems.

We therefore reiterate our call to all media houses that still allow hate speech and insults against other people, racist and sexist comments in their internet-based comment sections to take initiative and proactively deal with the problem.

We call on Parliament to discuss this problem too.

The SACP has consistently exposed the character of the so-called Democratic Alliance (DA) as a party full of racists that continue to protect white privilege!

We cannot - in a constitutional programme of transformation to build a non-racial society - allow a Member of Parliament (MP) to propagate hate speech and racist trolling using social media.

The DA was trying to fool the public when it suspended its MP, Dianne Kohler Barnard for sharing a racist social media post calling on the former President of apartheid: “Please come back, P W Botha - you were far more honest than any of these (ANC) rogues”.

At that time the SACP said Dianne Kohler Barnard expressed the views that are built into the DNA of the DA. When the DA reinstated her last month it clearly confirmed what we have said from the onset.

As if that was not more than enough, again from within the DA, emerged one Penny Sparrow with racist comments referring to black people as monkeys.

And of course the DA is trying to fool the public again by suspending her. Evidence exists beyond any reasonable doubt that there is home for such racism in the DNA of the DA.

In contradiction to the DA, never again must we allow our country South Africa to be a haven where racists are harboured and are a resource as an electoral base.

How can the DA be expected to do away with its own DNA?

That party of racist acquired white privilege must never be trusted especially when it comes to the fundamental principles of our constitution such as the principle of non-racialism.

In our country racism is deep-rooted in the economy. Wealth still reflects racial inequality to the historical disadvantage of the black majority. Ownership, management control and highly paid positions in industry are still held on the same basis. The workplace remains a pyramid that is predominantly white and mainly males at the top and black at the bottom.

This social engineering is not a product of the acts of nature but a long process of racist capitalist exploitation and privileges. It is this that the DA and its ilk are defending in opposition to democratic transformation including affirmative action to redress the imbalances of the past - which continue to this day.

As the SACP we support the ANC`s view that racism and expression of support for apartheid must all be criminalised. For instance, in Germany it is a crime to praise or comment positively about the holocaust.

Nevertheless, the campaign against racism must be taken up as a mass campaign, with the working class at its head, to be waged in all key sites of power - in workplaces, in our communities, in the media.

Most importantly, we need to intensify the struggle for overall economic transformation as part of a broader struggle against capitalism - as capitalism and racism are always twins, and terrible twins at that.

Intensifying the struggle against racism and capitalism is one of the best ways to honour the memory of Comrade Joe Slovo - a communist who not only hated but actively fought against racism.

Our campaign against racism in the economy and the media is but only one of many strategic objectives. Our overall strategy as the SACP is to achieve complete transformation of the media as with the economy, including ownership, management control, diversity of perspective and robustly independent accountability.

Dear comrades, fellow democratic and peace loving South Africans,

This year, the 21st anniversary of the death of the intellectual giant that Slovo was, coincides with:

The 20th anniversary of the adoption of our country`s first democratic constitution

We are commemorating Slovo`s death, but at the same time we are also celebrating his dedication, commitment and outstanding intellectual and practical contribution to our struggle for national liberation and socialism.

Let us remind ourselves who Joe Slovo was.

Comrade Slovo was born in Lithuania in the former Soviet Union in 1926, and moved with his parents to South Africa when he was only 9 years old. He joined the Young Communist League (YCL) in the early 1940s. When Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in "World War 2", the SACP, as the rest of the international communist movement did at the time, decided to encourage its members to join the war against Hitler and other fascists.

On his return from the War, on being offered a bursary to study, an opportunity given to returning white soldiers, Slovo went to Wits University where he studied and graduated in law. In memory of this gallant fighter, the SACP takes this opportunity to congratulate all the matriculants who have done well in 2015. We wish them well.

To those matriculants who come from poor backgrounds we want to say to them, be like Joe Slovo and grab with both hands the assistance you will receive from government in the form of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to study hard and pass.

To those matriculants who have not made it, be aware that going to university is not the only post-school opportunity.

Repetition is the mother of learning for those who are eligible for a second opportunity or would like to try again. To those who would like to further their education and training, there are alternatives to success. Please explore colleges, Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) learneship, apprenticeship and internship programmes or other workplace skills opportunities.

We also wish to encourage the YCL to continue with its Joe Slovo Right to Learn Campaign, in honour and memory of this giant.

Comrade Slovo was a founder member of both the Congress of Democrats - an organisation of democratic whites committed to the liberation to the black majority - in 1953. He also was a co-founder of the people`s liberation army, uMkhonto weSizwe, representing the SACP as the MK was a joint project of the ANC and the SACP, led by comrades Nelson Mandela and Slovo. Slovo served the MK in various capacities with distinction ending up as its Chief of Staff.

When Comrade Moses Mabhida, who was the General Secretary of the SACP passed away in 1986, Slovo was elected SACP General Secretary, a position he held until 1991 when he stepped down and was replaced by Comrade Chris Hani, so that he could concentrate on, amongst other things, the negotiations leading to the adoption of our interim constitution and our democratic breakthrough in 1994.

At the time of his death in 1995, Slovo was the National Chairperson of the SACP, ANC National Executive Committee member and first Minister of Housing in our first democratically elected government.

Comrade Slovo was both a leading theoretician of the SACP as well as a practical revolutionary. He also had a great sense of humour and used to tell lots of jokes about socialism and the Soviet Union.

Today, we recall that it was when everything came to a standstill at the negotiations to agree on our current constitution in the 1990s that it were the brains of the likes of Slovo that intervened.

At that time, our country was sliding toward a civil war. Many lives were being lost, including that of our former General Secretary Comrade Chris Hani who was assassinated on 10 April 1993. The cowardly murder of Comrade Chris drove our country to the brink of a civil war.

The interventions that prevented that imminent war and unlocked the negotiations were correctly premised on the principle that the agreements to be reached at the negotiations to pave the way to a democratic breakthrough we were to achieve in 1994 did not terminate our struggle for national liberation and socialism. It was on this basis that the compromises, widely known as the “sunset clauses” which settled the negotiations were referred to the course of the continuing struggle to address and ultimately resolve.

Slovo played a crucial leadership and intellectual role including strategic and tactical thinking in moving things forward to our democratic breakthrough during that process. The history of our 1994 democratic breakthrough can never be written without the role played by the Communist Party, the leadership of Slovo and his contribution to the transitional way forward!

It is on the ground of the many lives that we lost during the entire history of the course of our struggle that we become irritated when organisations harbouring racists - of whom many, if not all were on the side of apartheid and enjoyed its benefits - claim they have fought against racism and national oppression. Some of these organisations are today giving our constitution their own, anti-majoritarian liberal interpretation.

This, the year of the 21st anniversary of the death of Comrade Joe Slovo, a leading communist cadre who played an active role in unlocking the negotiations that had almost collapsed with devastating consequences for our people in the early 1990s;

This, also being the year of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the constitutional settlement that was agreed upon at those negotiations;

Is the year for us to assert the progressive content of our country`s constitution.

We must clearly reflect on the necessary comprises that took us one step forward and the conditions under which our constitution was agreed upon.

The sun must rise!

This is the time for us to intensify our struggle to move beyond those necessary and transitional compromises. This is the time for us to decisively tackle the liberal anti-majoritarian distortions of our country`s constitution. This is the time to deal with all other forms of its monumentalisation meant to hold us back and postpone the final victory of our revolution.

This are some of the reasons why, as the SACP, we are saying:

This is the time for a second, more radical phase of our democratic transition!

When the ANC became the governing party in 1994, the SACP said plainly that this was the end of our old task to dislodge the apartheid regime and the beginning of a new task to implement our medium-term vision expressed in the Freedom Charter, the vision of creating an economy independent of external control. This is an economy in which the commanding heights would be under democratic public ownership. It is an economy that, together with its basic wealth and resources, is free from internal manipulation by any elitist groupings for their own ends, be they black or white or black and white.

Unfortunately, by 1994, the world`s pendulum of the balance of power had been swayed by the dominance of Western imperialism in its own favour in its phase of neoliberal globalisation led by the United States. The aftermath produced one complex crisis after another and thus the devastation of life affecting millions of people the world over. But all this in the context of internal problems exploited by imperialism.

Related to all these, the SACP would like to take this opportunity to remind all democratic and peace loving South Africans what we said at the COSATU National Congress held in November 2015 about the failures of most national liberation movements after ascending to power in government. At that congress, as the SACP we highlighted four major failures of national liberation movements after ascending to power: the Failure to transform the (post-colonial) state; Inability to address the national question; Failure to transform the colonial and imperialist-based domestic economy; Betrayal of the principal motive forces of the national liberation struggle.

In most post-colonial societies, problems also occur when liberation movements concentrate too much on providing services, on doing things for the people - as important as these things are - rather than at the same time also and more importantly concentrating on building production, developing and diversifying the total national productive forces and making sure that the benefits of production are distributed among the most deserving people.

There can be no doubt that as production develops, more people will be in productive work and capacity to deliver social programmes will be greatly increased. These strategic tasks are mutually reinforcing. The absence or lack of economic transformation inevitably leads to problems in the sphere of social delivery.

Dear comrades,

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”, is indeed the slogan in which the principle of communist society is embedded. But we must never forget that the principle of the earlier stage, that of socialism, is “From each according to his ability to each according to his work.”

Let us now look at our country South Africa.

Over the past 21 years we have made huge advances in the area of social delivery. Millions of our people have benefited from free houses, massive electricity and water expansions. Education has been expanded massively across all levels. All these and other social advances are now being threatened by a lack of economic transformation and international economic crisis.

In other countries, there is deliberate destruction by monopoly capitalists and imperialist forces working together with their local agents - among others this through hostile local and foreign economic dominance including unfair international trade regimes. Foreign political machinations involving support for bogus “revolutionary” or some of the so-called pro-democracy organisations, including certain NGOs, are being set up and used. In the extreme, economic blockades such as is the situation imposed on Cuba by the United States, sanctions and foreign military aggression are being employed. South Africa is not immune from many of these problems.

Yet, we have not transformed the colonial features of our economy, with its dependency on exports of raw materials and primary goods. We are still reliant on the import of finished goods or production dominance by multinational corporations, hostile private monopolies and oligopolies, from the bathroom to breakfast, from communication to transportation, from the clinic to the hospital, from the classroom to the lecture hall, right in the workplace, where, we are importing capital goods, and so on.

Now, through its imperialist economic and political aggression the United States wants to ruin the meagre agricultural and farming sector that we have, by dumping its sick chicken legs, pork and other meat in our economy. This is not only dangerous to the economy of our country but to the health of our people.

The SACP stands by our government in holding the fort against the economic and political aggression of the United States. Food health regulations in the United States are universally known to be abominable and are far below their allies in Western Europe, or even those of South Africa as this case illustrates.

By the way, the United States continues to subsidise its agricultural and farming sector, by way of insurances and payments linked to crop and productivity. Yet, in contradiction, through the very same law that it is using to threaten South Africa with an economic blockade, the so-called African Opportunity Act (Agoa), the United States considers state intervention in the form of subsidies and public ownership in other economies, such as South Africa`s, as unwanted “government interference”.

We have fought very hard for our democratic national sovereignty. We cannot hand it over to imperialist control, including the United States` political and economic aggression. Sell-out politics to the highest imperialist bidders and aggressors is the faculty of the likes of the DA. That party of white privilege has been serving foreign interests on this matter. It has been condemning our national stances and commenting in favour of hostile foreign interests that seek to destroy the health of our people and our economy through dumping, and most possibly food poisoning as exposed by resistance to proper food health regulation.

As the SACP, we remain steadfast that it is time for the second, more radical phase of our country`s democratic transition. The main, and therefore not the only, content of this phase is structural to fundamental economic transformation!

We cannot continue with the colonial and dependent capitalist accumulation regime and not develop and diversify national production, collective ownership and democratic public control, and think that we will be able to resolve the problems of persisting crisis levels class inequality, unemployment and poverty.

There can be no doubt that the raw materials and primary goods that we are exporting come back in the form of more expensive higher value-added finished products in the form of imports. Building collective ownership and democratic national control, as well as developing and diversifying national production to manufacture finished products locally is a very important economic transformation programme to receive insufficient or inadequate attention. This we must pursue.

We must also move on with implementation of our alliance`s shared resolutions to develop our own, state-owned, pharmaceutical and mining companies and banks.

As part of the second, more radical phase of our democratic transition, the SACP has a dedicated campaign to achieve overall transformation of the financial sector. This sector constitutes the backbone of modern capitalism. It is the reason why investment in the productive sector has dwindled with increased focus in the casino economy, speculation and financialisation. The financial sector is one of, if not the main, aggressive forces behind the restructuring of the working class toward ever increasing insecurity, the so-called flexibility - which is flexibility to the exploiters.

The financial sector is the sector behind the brutal evictions that have wrecked the lives of hundreds of thousands of South Africans through unscrupulous evictions connected to property fraud. This is only comparable in both magnitute and devastation to the forced land and housing removals of colonialism and apartheid.

We shall heighten our Financial Sector Transformation Campaign until the bell of victory sounds.

Our first step this year is to prepare for the second financial sector summit to be convened by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). This summit will produce desired outcomes, only through intensified mobilisation in the streets. As trade unions say, we cannot expect to win in the negogations what we have not won in the streets.

Dear comrades,

We have more problems do deal with as we advance the second radical phase of our democratic transition.

We must deal decisively with the cancerous problems of corruption, patronage and abuse of state resources.

As the SACP we will also intensify our struggle against parasites seeking to loot the state and public resources.

We are calling on all our alliance partners and the motive forces of our revolution:

“In memory of Comrade Joe Slovo, let us close ranks and unite behind the perspective of the second, more radical phase of the national democratic revolution”.

Let us unite not only for elections for their own sake. We must work together in decision-making to direct the course of our shared revolution. Let us unite in action, behind the programmatic content of our electoral manifestos.

Let us mobilise our communities during the forthcoming local government elections to achieve a decisive electoral victory - not for ourselves - but for our people as a whole.

Let us not impose councillor candidates on our structures and communities and worse, those who they do want!!

Let us wholeheartedly serve our people and not our private personal interests!!

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