Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Address by the Central Committee as delivered by Comrade Thulas Nxesi, SACP Deputy National Chairperson at the SACP Mpumalanga Provincial Congress
10 September 2016
Ehlanzeni TVET College, Mbombela

The struggle is not over, comrades!

Dear Comrades, allow me first and foremost to convey revolutionary greetings from the Central Committee. Your Provincial Congress offers an opportunity for the party in the province to assess the state of the national democratic revolution, the alliance and the balance of forces. In particular, the outcome of the recent local government elections starkly reflecting a country-wide decline in the ANC`s electoral support must not escape your analysis and discussion of the configuration, the line up and the balance of forces.

The elections were not only characterised by a grouping that alleges that it is a revolutionary left organisation but in self-contradiction revealing its true nature and character selling out the votes it received to a right-wing party of white privilege. This confirmed the nature and character of its leaders as dealers in opportunism. That noted, and of which we must expose, our primary concern must be the electoral decline of the ANC. Without the decline, the opportunists were not going to be able to transact.

The downward trajectory affecting the ANC as evidenced from the now rapid trend in its electoral decline and the apparent lack of capacity or will to deal with the underlying causes and drivers of the waning political hegemony, have become more apparent than ever. The ANC and the ANC-led alliance are not short of an analysis what the problems are on the surface. In our five-day national alliance summit held mid-last year we all agreed and communicated through the declaration of the summit, that the problems of:

"A growing social distance between leadership and our mass constituency, including a disconnect between the focus of branch activities and the social and economic realities of communities; Crass displays of wealth and arrogance... reinforce and are connected to the deliberate manipulation and subversion of internal democratic processes through the manipulation of membership through gate-keeping and the use of money to advance individual ambitions and factions based on patronage and nepotism.

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

The summit resolved that these deviations must be dealt with firmly and without fear or favour. Those guilty of funding factions and those guilty of accepting money for these purposes must be exposed.

Internal disciplinary processes must be pursued speedily and consistently; Where money intended for our organisations is diverted into private pockets, civil and criminal cases must be preferred; Those found guilty in court must be placed on the Registry of National Treasury which makes them ineligible for being awarded public tenders."

The summit concluded by reminding the alliance partners that:

"...leadership of society must be earned through exemplary conduct and adhering to revolutionary morality."

Dear comrades, the problems lie in implementation. That is where the convergence end and divergences take root because of factionalism and its underlying economic, financial and power interests.

While we agreed, for example, as just quoted from the last ANC-led national alliance summit declaration, that corporate capture was a problem, linked with social distance from the mass and membership base, arrogance, inequality and corruption, distortion of internal democratic processes, manipulation and buying of membership and votes and other money-driven politics, some, one by one did not find any insincerity, contrary to all alliance partners together, to dismiss the existence of the problem.

There is just no way a political movement that is infested with factionalism right from within the ranks of its top echelons can ever resolve the problem, its consequences, material basis and driving forces and factors. Since we are at a congress of the provincial organ of a Communist Party, let us recall the wise words of one of the world`s outstanding revolutionary social scientists, Karl Marx. This is what he had to say in his writing titled The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte:
"As, in private life, the distinction is made between what a man thinks of himself and says, and that which he really is and does, so, all the more, must the phrases and notions of parties in historic struggles be distinguished from their real organism, and their real interests, their notions and their reality."
It is very important to recognise that the declining electoral support of the ANC in a very big way reflects a message from the people, especially the ANC`s own support bases that stayed away or protested by voting against the ANC, that they can distinguish the difference when any exists between form and content, or appearance and essence, or statements and actions!

What we need is the ANC that matches words with deeds and walks the talk in the forefront of our alliance as its leading component.

This is the context in which our last Central Committee Plenary Session last month expressed disappointment at the statement issued by the ANC following its recent national executive committee meeting. As the Central Committee said, it is not that the statement did not touch generally on many of the challenges and internal weaknesses confronting the ANC, but that ever since the early 2000s, successive ANC national conferences and ANC-led alliance summits, one of which we have just quoted extensively by way of providing evidence, have pointed out to the same problems. What the great majority of South Africans want to see, starting from within the ANC-led alliance itself, is a clear sign of willingness to act decisively against these morbid symptoms.

Let us recall that the SABC dominated negative news during the recent local government election because of the display of arrogance in its decision-making. Again this did not come without a factional backing, in the ultimate analysis, against the ANC`s own policy positions and statements. The outcomes of the last summit of the ANC-led alliance on the SABC were in this very same manner disregarded and contradicted, because of the factionalism and related networks of private interests.

What did the summit say in its declaration mid-last year?

Let us once more quote directly from the declaration of the summit to expose the factionalism and private interests that have taken hold of individual leaders who find no insincerity in becoming dishonest and dismissing hard facts.

"The Summit expressed deep concern at the erosion of the SABC`s ability to fulfil its public mandate. This is caused by inadequate public funding, private corporate capture and the virtual monopoly of pay-TV by a single company. Linked to this have been the sale of the SABC Archive to Multichoice and thus the privatisation of what should be our shared national heritage. A further consequence is that public access to live parliamentary debates and continuous news coverage is limited to those who can afford pay-TV."

Dear Comrades, last week Thursday marked the 3rd anniversary of the ANC-led alliance national summit declaration of 1 September 2013 that declared that:

"The SACP and Cosatu have raised a number of concerns with certain aspects of the NDP (National Development Plan), including the economic chapter. The Alliance recognises that these concerns are legitimate and will be addressed by the Alliance Task Team."

Three years later, no such a review has taken place.

We all know where the problems are concentrated that we do not need a new thesis about the fundamental need to match words with deeds and to be principled and consistent. The only language in town is that of implementing the NDP. There is no reference to that important ANC-led national alliance summit declaration to review the NDP.

The talk that the NDP is not cast in stone and must be adapted where it is necessary is proved by nothing from the point of view of the 1 September 2013 ANC-led alliance national summit declaration and has become empty.

It is in this same light that we must examine what happened to the revolutionary content of the bold declaration to move our democratic transition on to a second radical phase based on radical economic transformation.

Many of the issues we have briefly touched on, which centre on the major problem of the internal disunity and worsening lack of coherence paralysing the capacity of the ANC to play its role effectively not just narrowly as a discrete organisation or leader of its own members only but as a leading component of our alliance, formations of the mass democratic movement and broadly as a leader of our society, highlight some of the reasons why as the SACP we have said an early elective conference of the ANC will be the shortest way to accelerate its declining electoral support and hard-won democratic hegemony.

This is the context in which our call must be understood for the ANC as the leading component of our alliance and broad democratic movement to convene a non-elective Special National Conference with the stated purpose of consulting its membership, wider constituencies and support bases in order to unify the ANC and indeed the broader alliance and democratic mass organisations on principled programmatic basis.

There are too many destructive developments that, if not arrested, will cause an irreparable damage not only to the ANC but also the array of other organisations that support it as well as the alliance.

The manner in which the Hawks, for example, have handled themselves in relation to the Finance Minister Comrade Pravin Gordhan leaves much to be desired. It is as if we are in a déjà vu with the name of the Scorpions replaced by that of the Hawks but with the modus operandi maintaining its problematic features.

As the SACP we support Comrade Pravin`s rights to be treated fairly, as opposed to what the Hawks have displayed. Secondly, we support the programme the Minister is leading to combat corruption and rent-seeking. These are the immediate problems, together with the wider problem of corporate capture, facing the National Treasury, tax payers` money, public entities and our economy. We must unite the widest rage of progressive forces to defeat these problems.

It is important that we equally emphasise, that, as the SACP, we do not support neoliberalism. This is why we are pushing, at the same time, for a decisive action towards radical economic transformation that must be seen driven in earnest by the ANC in society and in government. That is why we are concerned at a lack of progress towards the review of the NDP to deliver on the mandate of the 1 September 2013 ANC-led alliance national summit declaration.

There are some who want us to believe that they are genuinely committed to shouldering collective responsibility for the failures that occur in the national democratic revolution. But instead of recognising that the ANC as a governing party is responsible for the policies driven in government, they, on the contrary, want society to believe that the problem lies with a particular department or individual minister.

The fact of the matter is that neoliberalism has failed to resolve the economic problems that we have been facing as country. Most of these problems centre primarily on the exploitation of labour by capital and, as a result of it, persistent inequality, unemployment and poverty. Neoliberalism is not a solution to the problems but its driving force. It is none other than neoliberalism that caused the international economic crisis of 2008, which in many ways is still in session. The crisis entrenched the economic problems that we have been facing as a country including its social and political consequences worst affecting the working class.

In policy terms, the ANC-led government missed an opportunity to drive radical economic transformation programme from the outset in 1994 when we achieved our democratic breakthrough. Instead, common management of prevailing capitalist economic relations rather than radical economic transformation dominated government policy thinking. The imposition in 1996 of the neoliberal class project of Gear, the so-called Growth, Employment and Redistribution, which was by the way adopted by the ANC a year later in its 1997 national conference, was in this regard a tangent from the revolutionary ideals of our national liberation movement.

Dear comrades, we will not do justice as the Central Committee to leave this platform without calling order on those sections of our movement that have made it their preoccupation to try and isolate our General Secretary, Comrade Blade Nzimande in his capacity as the Minister of Higher Education and Training. These factionalists, whose main target are the communists and not Nzimande as an individual know very well that the Higher Education and Training Department must be allocated additional funding in order to finance the no fee increment for 2017. But they behave as if Comrade Blade is refusing with the no fee increment and must personally be held responsible or liable. This factional behaviour defines what they mean on their part when they talk about shouldering collective responsibility. As the SACP, we will not allow our General Secretary to be made a sacrificial lamb!

We are calling on your provincial congress to discuss local economic development in the province and come up with radical resolutions in line with the perspective of the need to move our democratic transition on to a second radical phase. Many of the problems we are facing emanate, in addition to the prevailing legacy of colonialism and apartheid, from a lack of sufficient economic transformation since our 1994 democratic breakthrough and deviant tendencies by leaders who, instead of dedicating their lives in serving the people would rather put to the front their private interests. It is, in one way, as a result of such self-serving leaders that reformism has risen and is now posing the danger of dislodging the "REVOLUTION" in the national democratic revolution!

The struggle is not over, comrades!

Let us labour everywhere for the unity of our alliance, broad movement and our constituencies on the ground, to advance the struggle towards complete national liberation and social emancipation. Let us intensify the struggle to achieve all the goals of the Freedom Charter! As the SACP, we believe that the achievement of the goals of this struggle will lay the indispensable basis for advancing to socialism!

Dear comrades, at the turn of the 20th century, Vladimir Lenin, published two seminal papers to explain the events that were then unfolding in Russia, "Where to Begin" and, later, "What is to be Done?". In order to map a way forward for the ANC now, we need a similar start and ask ourselves these two questions. Failure to do so will be catastrophic in the 2019 general election. We will inexorably score below the 50 percent threshold required to form a government. This will prove an indictment we will not recover from.

This scenario is reminiscent of the banning of the ANC in 1960 and the watershed response nine years later in 1969 through the Morogoro Consultative Conference in Tanzania. The organisation was effectively under the bus, paralysed by the ignominy of exile, banishment, imprisonment, all made worse by the endless and often self-defeating debates on non-racialism, the life style of leaders as well as weaknesses in the integration of political and military work. It took three Consultative Conferences, one in 1962 in Lobatse, another in 1965 in Dar es Salaam and, finally, the famous Morogoro Conference in 1969 to develop both clarity of thought and action on the way forward. It seems likely that we might also have three conferences to correct the current challenges.

Let us reiterate, that the ANC requires a Special National Conference similar to Morogoro with a consultative purpose. This Conference will have to be deliberately structured to avoid, among others crippling divisions, spiralling ill-discipline, despicable arrogance, inexplicable denialism, factional majoritarianism borne out of conferences by delegates hand-picked to advance agendas of particular dominant factions, business interests funding and buying of votes and thereby conferences, intolerance, as well as the manipulation of candidate lists. We must emerge out of this conference with a common vision and ensure that we self-correct, close ranks and unite as we have done since our birth in 1912.

No one must mistaken their factional centralism for democratic centralism and think that by factionally appropriating the leadership of the ANC they will have the backing on the ballot of all those who they have marginalised in stealing the movement. The recent local government elections must be seen a teacher who delivered a decisive lesson in this regard. Those who want to ignore the lesson as well as the lessons of the last early elective conference convened in KZN Province will only walk away with a shell and not the ANC and its support base.

History calls on us to break the stranglehold of factions which decide who attends and who does not attend and who votes for a particular slate at conferences.

The special consultative conference should be buttressed by a policy conference, which would have been followed by a national elective conference. The Policy Conference should discuss papers with policy content that would have been developed to give shape and structure to the organisation of the future and its exercise of state power.

We are at the crossroads. We will either fundamentally restructure the organisation, elect new leaders, emerge with new policies, abandon e-tolls, end slates and factions, and deal with corruption and tenders; or we will risk losing our leadership role in the 2019 general election. If the latter prevails, we shall have allowed for free-doom in our life-time rather the freedom our forebears and ourselves fought for.

History will judge us as a group that displayed an atrophy of vision and despoiled the gains of liberation due to crass materialism and self-aggrandisement. This is our moment to rise again and re-centre the spirit of freedom.

We dare not allow this plague to fester and we will prevail and return the ANC to its former glory only if we allow incisive self-criticism to take centre-stage during these trying times. Let`s not make finger-pointing our guide henceforth. This time calls for sober judgement without being judgemental.

Forward with Unity, Forward!

Dear comrades, the Central Committee wishes you a successful Provincial Congress!

Issued by the SACP



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