Tuesday, June 07, 2016

SACP CC Press Statement: Raising the Red Flag Higher Against Venal Conduct, Defending Our Democratic National Sovereignty and Advancing the Second Radical Phase of the NDR
5 June 2016

The South African Communist Party met in its regular quarterly Central Committee in Johannesburg over the weekend of 3-5 June. The CC discussed at length a political report from the secretariat. The CC was also addressed by Minister of Finance, cde Pravin Gordhan on current global and domestic economic challenges, while Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance, cde Andries Nel briefed the CC on government's Integrated Urban Development Framework policy and implementation plan.

The CC reaffirmed the Party's firm commitment to ensuring an overwhelming ANC-led alliance electoral victory in the August 3 local government elections. The CC congratulated the ANC in Gauteng on mobilising a massive 80,000-plus electoral rally in Johannesburg on Saturday in the face of many doubters and nay-sayers. The rally turn-out did not emerge from thin air. It is testament to the consistent commitment of the ANC-led government in the Gauteng province to engage actively with township protests, to listen to the grievances and challenges facing working class communities, and, together with these communities, to seek collective solutions. It is also testament to the effective ANC, SACP, COSATU and SANCO working unity that has been a hall-mark of the province over the recent past. The unity of our alliance is essential for ensuring that local, metro governance in the economic hub of South Africa does not fall into the hands of neo-liberal forces bent on preserving apartheid-era privileges and segregations, now under the guise of giving free rein to property speculation and unrestrained market forces.

We commend the important mobilising role played by SACP structures in the province for this rally, and earlier the successful May Day rally. The CC also noted the massive SACP-led march in eThekwini in late April, estimated by the SAPS at over 100,000 strong. It is important that the momentum and confidence built up through this mobilisation activity become the springboard for intensive engagement in communities in Gauteng, KZN and throughout South Africa to ensure ANC election victories in August. The ANC, together with its Allies, must also use the post-election period to address the many challenges thrown up in the run up to the elections

In the course of the election campaign we should not be in denial about the many challenges facing workers, the urban and rural poor, and a broad spectrum of middle strata, professionals, students and the youth in general. Consistently, public opinion surveys underline that the two greatest concerns advanced by the majority of South Africans are the unemployment crisis and corruption. While our persisting crisis-levels of unemployment have many systemic underpinnings, there can be no doubt that corrupt rent-seeking by a parasitic bourgeoisie and its political associates diverts billions of rands out of the productive economy, thus contributing to persisting unemployment, racial inequality and poverty.

The dangers and reality of corporate capture

This was the context in which the CC strongly supported the main theses advanced by the secretariat's political report on the dangers of corporate capture. The CC commended in particular our second national deputy general secretary, cde Solly Mapaila, for his forthright condemnation of those, like the Gupta family, involved in the most brazen forms of buying political influence and of even directly seeking to usurp executive powers.

In its formal declaration, last year's Alliance Summit convened by the ANC, noted chronic problems within some of our formations, involving "the use of money to advance individual ambitions and factions based on patronage and nepotism." The declaration went on:

"This behaviour is also the entry-point for corporate capture and private business interests outside of our formations to undermine organisational processes."

We believe that it is misguided, therefore, for those in the ANC's leadership who now seek to dismiss concern about corporate capture as if it were just a marginal issue. We certainly agree that neither the ANC nor government are corporately captured in their entirety. But the problem is widespread, and threatens to become endemic. It is also misguided to believe that raising this issue is a distraction from the ANC local election campaign. In fact, it is only by addressing the challenges of parasitic corporate capture head-on, without fear or favour, that we will reaffirm the values of our liberation struggle, and begin to regain the respect of millions of ANC supporters and South African citizens in general.

At the same time, we must not allow the struggle against parasitic corporate capture to itself become factionalist, or simply oppositionist grand-standing. And that is why the SACP, in raising a red flag against the venal conduct of the Gupta family, has always insisted that they are not alone in their parasitic behaviour. Equally, we reject with contempt the claim that criticising the parasitic bourgeoisie amounts to support for imperialism or established monopoly capital - as if the Guptas were the ANC's strategic answer to the Ruperts and Oppenheimers!

It would be surprising if monopoly capital and imperialist circles were not actively engaged in seeking to shape our unfolding South African reality. The CC secretariat political report advances the thesis that imperialism's preferred strategic agenda is less about regime change in South Africa, and rather "neo-liberal regime perpetuation". In the words of the political report, this is a strategic agenda:

"to preserve the elite pact features of the early 1990s settlement, bearing in mind that these were never the complete reality of what was, in many respects, an immensely progressive popular victory. The first choice for imperialism is to preserve, defend and consolidate its not inconsiderable influence over the ANC and government".

As one partial glimpse into this strategy, the CC noted the recent revelation that a group of military officers from Britain's Royal College of Defence Studies visited SA last year with the assignment to "assess the political threats to continuing ANC rule in South Africa". The military officers were required to "devise a medium term strategy, with concrete deliverables, for the party to retain power at the next general election."

The UK Ministry of Defence refused to divulge further information and claimed (implausibly) that it was all simply an "academic exercise". However, the military officers conducted intensive meetings with corporate interests, including HSBC, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and Lonmin, the British-owned platinum mining company operating in South Africa. These revelations provide a small window into what is certainly a wider strategic agenda.

To make sense of the complexities confronting the progressive movement in South Africa it is useful to distinguish two broad camps within the bourgeoisie:

South African (typically trans-nationalised) monopoly capital, integrated into an imperialist agenda, together with the now relatively established (and often compradorial) first generation BEE stratum; and
A parasitic bourgeoisie based on state capture in its most brazen forms - seeking to influence appointing and dis-appointing cabinet ministers, capturing the boards of key parastatals, illegal expatriation of capital to secret accounts in Dubai and elsewhere, tax evasion, money laundering, and much more. All of this is based on the direct corruption of government and party political officials.
Of course, it would be wrong to imagine that there is a water-tight compartmentalization between these two broad camps within the bourgeoisie. Established monopoly capital also indulges in illegal activities - see for instance the collusive activity of the construction cartels, or Multi-Choice's active involvement in corporate state capture. However, the principal source of profit of established monopoly capital is through (of course exploitative capitalist) economic activity, and not simple looting.

The cabinet re-shuffling events of December 2015 starkly exposed differences in strategic interests between these two camps. The parasitic bourgeoisie's rent-seeking greed clearly knows absolutely no bounds. They are quite prepared to loot our economy into a Zimbabwean-style failed economic scenario. There are suggestions that, with insider knowledge, some have deliberately "shorted" the rand - that is, speculatively driven down the rand's exchange value. They are clearly prepared to cut-and-run to Dubai leaving behind the wreckage. This activity poses a threat to the livelihoods of the great majority of South Africans, wiping out the value of pensions and other savings, amongst other things.

Monopoly/imperialist capital is certainly not virtuous, but it has a vested interest in not seeing the economy collapse, hence, for instance, the British Army visit to SA - alarmed, no doubt, by EFF demagogic threats, Marikana and AMCU, and, of course the wrecking-ball activities of the Guptas. But monopoly/imperialist capital, while it does not want to see a Zimbabwean-style economic collapse in South Africa, will also strenuously resist any attempt at the progressive transformation of our political economy along the lines of a second radical phase of our democratic transition, aimed at overcoming our systemic and racialized crises of unemployment, poverty, and inequality. It is for this reason that for the British army officers (and the imperialist forces behind them) the strategic agenda is not anti-ANC regime change, as such, but rather the elimination, or at the very least, the substantial reduction of SACP, COSATU, progressive ANC, and broader popular influence over the ANC and the state.

Unless we deal decisively with the parasitic bourgeoisie, our ability as a democratic state and popular movement to confront our principal strategic opponents (monopoly capital) will be eroded. If Treasury, the South African Revenue Services, SAA, Denel, Eskom, and parts of the prosecutorial and intelligence services are captured by parasitic interests working with the worst security branch elements from the apartheid past, then we will lose much of the strategic capacity not just to deal with the parasites, but to drive a radical second phase of our democratic transition against the strategic interests of monopoly capital and imperialism.

This is why the SACP over the past months has, correctly, played a leading role from within the Alliance in exposing the Guptas (and other instruments of parasitism) and in defending Treasury without simply becoming the cheerleaders for factions of monopoly capital or their comprador BEE associates.

It is precisely this positioning by the SACP that has also prevented monopoly capital from walking away with a clear-cut victory from the events of December when the president was compelled to replace the newly appointed Minister of Finance with a former Minister of Finance, cde Pravin Gordhan. However, our support for Treasury must not be factional, or simply personal, it must now be consolidated into assisting Treasury, including through mass struggle, to play a constructive role in advancing a second radical phase of the NDR.

In our engagement with cde Pravin Gordhan over the weekend, these SACP perspectives were candidly tabled. The CC, of course, congratulated cde Gordhan for the leading role he has played in fending off parasitic activity and for his central part in mobilizing a wide array of South Africans to collectively ensure that Friday's Standard and Poor rating of SA did not carry us into junk status territory. Whatever we might think of the ratings agencies, junk status would have dire consequences for the majority of South Africans. The SACP pledged to play an active role in supporting cde Gordhan in this essentially patriotic struggle in defence of our democratic national sovereignty.

Appeal Court decision on set-top boxes

The CC noted and welcomed last week's Supreme Court of Appeal judgment that the Department of Communication's policy decision in favour of unencrypted TV set-top boxes "was made in an irrational and thus unlawful manner and is inherently irrational as well." The SACP has consistently argued that obduracy in this matter flies in the face of the ANC National General Council's own decisions, as well as the ANC's Communication Commission. It is hard not to draw the conclusion that this stubbornness has been directly influenced by Koos Bekker's Naspers media empire, with Multichoice currently holding an extremely lucrative monopoly on encrypted TV programming in South Africa. Persistence in trying to drive through unencrypted set-top boxes in defiance of ANC policy has delayed South Africa's digital migration and indirectly the roll-out of digital migration. We have fallen far behind less developed countries in our continent, including Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania, all of which now have 100 percent coverage. Once more corporate and parasitic capture of parts of the state is gravely undermining development in our country.

Also in the same media context, the CC emphasises the formal statement of last year's ANC-led Alliance Summit which attributed the SABC's inability to fulfil its public broadcaster mandate to: "private corporate capture and the virtual monopoly of pay-TV by a single company." The recent high-handed editorial decisions made irregularly and without consultation by Hlaudi Motsoeneng and much to the embarrassment of SABC journalists in the field are a case in point.

Mine-workers court victory

The SACP welcomes the decision of the High Court in Johannesburg to certify a class action by mine-workers against gold mining companies in South Africa. This landmark judgment paves the way for tens of thousands of mine-workers and former mine-workers suffering from silicosis and TB to sue mining companies for damages. This judgment follows the R500m settlements in London for compensation of former Anglo American and Anglogold Ashanti workers. Let us never forget that the accumulated wealth and present powers of monopoly capital has been secured at a deadly cost for hundreds of thousands of workers from throughout Southern Africa.

Muhammed Ali - farewell to the greatest

The SACP joins millions world-wide in bidding farewell to one of the greatest sports-persons and personalities of modern times. Born into humble beginnings, Muhammed Ali gave a voice and a sense of pride to the downtrodden and to the racially oppressed world-wide. His brave stand in refusing to be conscripted to fight an imperialist war in Vietnam was exemplary. As a result, he lost two years of competition at the very height of his boxing prowess. Here in South Africa, in the midst of the granite years of apartheid, Ali's formidable example was very much part of the revival of an anti-racist, anti-imperialist groundswell.

We dip our banners in honour of cde Mohammed Abdelaziz

The leader of the Polisario Front, cde Mohammed Abdelaziz, passed away on Thursday last week. For many decades cde Abdelaziz has led the brave struggle of the Saharawi people against the illegal Moroccan colonial occupation of large parts of Western Sahara. Let us honour his memory by intensifying our solidarity with the Polisario Front and the long-suffering Saharawi people.

Issued by the Central Committee of the SACP

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