CONSTITUTION OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY

As amended at the 11th SACP Congress, 24 – 28 July 2002

1. NAME

The name of the organisation shall be the South African Communist Party (SACP).

2. SYMBOL AND FLAG

The symbol of the SACP shall be a black star containing a gold hammer and sickle. The flag of the SACP shall be red with the symbol placed in the top left-hand corner.

3. AIMS

3.1 The SACP strives to be the leading political force of the South African working class whose interests it promotes in the struggle to advance, deepen and defend the national democratic revolution and to achieve socialism.

3.2 The SACP shall pursue this by means of educating, organising and mobilising the working class and its allies in support of our Party and its objectives of completing the national democratic revolution and achieving socialism.

3.3 The SACP shall strive to win acceptance as a vanguard by democratic means and in ideological contest with other political parties.

3.4 The ultimate aim of the SACP is the building of a communist society in which all forms of exploitation of person by person will have ended and in which all the products of human endeavour will be distributed according to need. The attainment of such a society will require an interim socialist formation in which reward will be measured by contribution.

3.5 At all stages the SACP commits itself to a social order that will respect completely the cultural, language and religious rights of all sections of our society and the democratic rights of the individual. The SACP will recognise the right to independence of all social organisations and political parties that function within the ambit of South Africa's Constitution. This implies a multi-party political framework in which there will be regular, open and free elections. Within such a framework the SACP will primarily dedicate itself to advancing the interests of the working class and its allies in democratic contest with other political forces in all spheres of life.

4. GUIDING PRINCIPLES

In leading the working class towards national and social emancipation, the SACP is guided by those principles of Marxism-Leninism whose universal validity has been proven by historical experience. The foundations of these principles were laid by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Lenin and enriched by other great revolutionaries. In applying the general principles of Marxism-Leninism, the SACP is, in the first place, concerned with their indigenous elaboration and application to the concrete realities of our own developing situation. More particularly, the SACP will work:

4.1 To end the system of capitalist exploitation in South Africa and to establish a socialist society based on the common ownership of, participation in, and control by the producers of the key means of production. Such a society will respect and protect all personal non-exploitative property.

4.2 To organise, educate and lead the working class in the struggle for socialism and the more immediate objectives of defending and deepening the national democratic revolution and of achieving national and social emancipation. The main aim of the unfolding national democratic revolution is to complete the national liberation of the African people in particular and black people in general, to ensure the destruction of white supremacy, and the strengthening of democracy in every sphere of life. By participating in this revolution, the SACP aims to eradicate patriarchal relations, weaken and ultimately destroy the economic and political power of the capitalist class through struggle for working class hegemony over society, in particular the ownership and control of the economy and the achievement of one united state of people's power. In this state, working class interests will be dominant and the economic conditions will be created which make it possible to move towards social emancipation and, eventually, the total abolition of the exploitation of person by person in both public and private spheres of life.

4.3 To organise, educate and lead women within the working class, the poor and rural communities in pursuit of the aims of the SACP; and to raise the consciousness of the working class and its allies around the integral and oppressive nature of gender relations within South African capitalism.

4.4 To participate in and strengthen the revolutionary alliance of all classes and strata whose interests are served by the immediate aims of the national democratic revolution.

4.5 To spread the widest possible understanding of our basic ideology and its application to South African conditions, particularly among the working class.

4.6 To combat racism, tribalism, sex discrimination, regionalism, chauvinism and all forms of narrow nationalism.

4.7 To encourage an ongoing national and international dialogue with all organisations committed to peace, transformation of gender relations, non-racialism, democracy and the preservation of our environment.

4.8 To promote the ideas of proletarian internationalism and the unity of the workers of South Africa and the world.

5. MEMBERSHIP

5.1 All South Africans over the age of 16 who accept the programme and policies of the SACP, undertake to carry out its decisions and to be active in a SACP structure and pay whatever dues are decided on, are eligible for membership.

5.2 The recruiting of members shall be primarily through the branch structures, under the supervision of provincial executive committees, provincial councils, district executive committees and district councils.

5.3 A person who does not qualify for citizenship or permanent residence in South Africa may be accepted as an associate member if his/her application is accepted by the Central Committee (CC). An associate member has full constitutional rights and obligations but may not stand for election as a member of the executive at any level of the SACP.

5.4 Any applicant refused admission to membership by a branch shall have the right to appeal against such a decision to the District Council. Should the appeal fail, the applicant shall have the right to refer such appeal progressively up to the higher structures of the SACP.

5.5 All members shall renew their membership on an annual basis in order to remain members of the SACP, and shall remain active in the work of the SACP.

5.6 All new members of the SACP shall undergo induction training under the direction of the Branch, District and Provincial structures.

5.7 Every member has a duty, in his or her personal conduct, to act in a manner which will bring credit to the SACP and to be a standard bearer of the highest communist ethic and morality.

5.8 Members must strive constantly to improve their understanding of the SACP’s guiding ideology and its application to our specific South African conditions. They must ensure that they are fully acquainted with the SACP programme, with SACP policies on current questions and with all decisions, journals and documents issued by the SACP.

5.9 All SACP members who earn above a certain amount, as determined by the CC, shall pay a levy to be determined by the CC from time to time.

6. BASIC ORGANISATIONAL PRINCIPLES

6.1 To secure the unity and cohesion of the SACP, members are obliged to defend the SACP and to carry out its decisions. All decisions taken by higher structures are binding on all lower structures and individual members. Members shall have the right to pursue their views internally in the lead up to conferences or congresses with powers under this constitution to determine or reverse SACP policies. No groupings with their own discipline shall be permitted.

6.2 All higher structures shall be accountable to lower structures and to the membership in the formulation and implementation of policies and, for this purpose, shall wherever possible ensure regular and effective consultation with lower structures and the membership prior to the finalisation and implementation of major policies.

6.3 Save as provided for in this constitution, all elected office bearers of the SACP and all structures with the power to formulate and direct SACP policies at any level shall be elected by secret ballot unless a minimum of 75% of the delegates decide otherwise.

6.4 Members active in fraternal organisations or in any sector of the mass movement have a duty to set an example of loyalty, hard work and zeal in the performance of their duties and shall be bound by the discipline and decisions of such organisations and movement. They shall not create or participate in SACP caucuses within such organisations and movements designed to influence either elections or policies. The advocacy of SACP policy on any question relating to the internal affairs of any such organisations or movements shall be by open public statements or at joint meetings between representatives of the SACP and such organisations or movements.

6.5 Members who are elected to positions at a higher level may not stand for election to positions at a lower level in the SACP. They may serve as ex-officio members of lower structures.

6.6 Delegates attending any SACP policy-making Congress or conference shall not be rigidly bound by any mandate on any question and are free to discuss and vote in accordance with their own individual views and conclusions based on the debates at such a Congress or conference. It shall however be the duty of delegates to fairly and effectively convey to such a Congress or conference the views of the constituency which elected them on any questions discussed.

6.7 All structures of the SACP shall encourage the practice of constructive criticism and self-criticism in party structures.

6.8 In all work and at every level, party structures and members shall ensure that the struggle against patriarchy and for the transformation of gender relations is given due importance, including by the creation of appropriate structures empowered to perform this task.

6.9 Executive structures of the SACP shall have the right to co-opt SACP veterans, who shall have non-voting status. Veterans are those who have served the party with distinction for 40 years and more.

7. NATIONAL CONGRESS

7.1 The highest authority of the SACP shall be a National Congress which shall be called every 5 years. The Central Committee may convene other special National Congresses which shall have the same power as the main National Congress except for the provisions relating to the election of office bearers and members of the CC. Such a National Congress may, however, decide on elections by a 75% majority. A special National Congress shall be convened by the CC if directed to do so by a decision of more than half of the provinces.

7.2 The National Congress shall be constituted by elected delegates from the membership and members of the CC. All SACP provinces shall be represented in proportion to their membership. The CC shall prior to each National Congress determine the total number of elected delegates and shall allocate a quota to each province in proportion to its membership. The provinces shall then allocate a quota of delegates from the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) and for each branch in proportion to its membership ensuring that each branch has a minimum of one representative. The CC shall have the authority to invite non-voting delegates made up of veterans and similar categories. With the permission of the National Congress such delegates may attend and participate in all closed sessions.

7.3 The National Congress shall discuss the reports of the CC, receive and discuss an audited financial statement and the report of the National Treasurer, examine and decide the policies of the SACP, and is the only authority with power to elect the General Secretary, National Chairperson, National Treasurer, Deputy General Secretary, Deputy National Chairperson, and members of the CC, and to revise the programme and constitution of the SACP. The Central Committee shall ensure that all major draft documents for the consideration of the National Congress shall be circulated to all structures at least 2 months prior to the Congress. All comments, resolutions and proposals of such documents shall be tabled at the National Congress.

7.4 Unless otherwise decided by the National Congress, its plenary proceedings shall be in open session. Unless otherwise provided for in this constitution, all decisions of the National Congress shall be by a simple majority through a show of hands.

8. THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE (CC)

Unless otherwise provided for in this constitution, the Central Committee (CC) shall have the power to direct the work of the SACP, to determine all questions of policy, and to issue binding instructions and directives to all levels of the SACP, save that any departure from major policy decisions of the National Congress demanded by changing conditions shall only be made after full consultation with the membership. The CC shall:

8.1 Consist of 25 members elected at the National Congress, the General Secretary, National Chairperson, National Treasurer, Deputy General Secretary, Deputy National Chairperson, and the Secretaries and Chairpersons of all the provinces, who shall be ex officio members. Any Provincial Secretary or Chairperson elected to the CC in his/her own right shall forfeit his/her position on the PEC. The CC shall have the right to co-opt 5 members, apart from veterans. The CC shall include at least one-third women in its make-up, including after co-option. All nominations for the elected members of the CC shall be submitted by provinces to the CC not later than two weeks before the National Congress. Nominations from the floor of the Congress shall be accepted if seconded by a minimum of 25% of Congress delegates.

8.2 Meet at least every 4 months in plenary session. Any major draft political reports to be considered by the plenary session shall be timeously circulated to the membership for comments and criticisms.

8.3 Decide who will be the full-time members of the CC.

8.4 Ensure that all elected office bearers, provincial committees, other party structures and members carry out their duties effectively.

8.5 Control and supervise all national SACP media and set up the necessary structures for their effective functioning.

8.6 Stimulate and provide a flow of education in Marxist theory and its application to our conditions for all SACP members, and promote cadre development.

8.7 Inform and guide the membership on current political developments and also provide regular information on SACP organisational activities.

8.8 Represent the SACP nationally in its relations with other political parties and organisations.

8.9 Manage and control all SACP property and funds.

8.10 Have the right by two-thirds majority (excluding the comrade affected) to remove or suspend any of its members from serving on the CC for any serious misconduct detrimental to the SACP. Any such actions shall be reported to the membership.

8.11 Appoint from among its members the heads of departments.

8.12 All CC members shall be obliged to attend all CC meetings or tender written apologies. Elected CC members shall be obliged to work within a Department of the SACP as deployed by the CC. Failure to participate in the work of the Department shall be reported to the CC by the Head of Department.

8.13 Should any one of the elected office bearers become permanently incapacitated or vacate his/her office or be suspended from office by a two-thirds majority of a plenary session of the CC for acts detrimental to the SACP, the CC shall appoint one of its members to replace him/her.

9. POLITICAL BUREAU (PB)

9.1 The CC shall meet immediately after the Congress and shall elect from its ranks 8 members, who together with the elected office bearers, shall constitute the Political Bureau (PB).

9.2 The PB shall conduct the current work of the SACP and shall exercise all the powers and functions of the CC between meetings of the CC, except those powers and functions which this constitution specifically reserves for plenary sessions of the CC.

9.3 The PB shall meet at least once a month. It shall appoint whatever administrative structures it deems necessary to facilitate the carrying out of its decisions between meetings of the PB.

9.4 The CC shall constantly assess and evaluate the work of the PB, and where necessary, recall members of the PB.

9.5 Any member of the CC may, by invitation of the PB, attend any of its meetings.

9.6 The PB shall have the right by a two-thirds majority decision (excluding the comrade affected) to suspend any comrade from the PB for any serious misconduct detrimental to the SACP. Such a decision shall be enforced until the next plenary session of the CC which shall either confirm or reverse the PB decision.

10. DUTIES OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY

The General Secretary shall be the leading National Office Bearer of the SACP and a full-time official under conditions of service determined by the CC. The General Secretary shall be an ex officio member of all party structures and shall:

10.1 Keep (or cause to be kept) the minutes of all CC and PB meetings and such other books, records and archives as may be required.

10.2 Attend to the correspondence of the CC and PB. Maintain regular personal and written contact with all the provinces and keep the membership informed on the work of the CC and PB.

10.3 Ensure that members of the CC are kept informed of the work of the PB in between meetings of the CC.

10.4 Draw up (or cause to be drawn up) all reports and documents as may be decided upon by the CC or PB.

10.5 The Deputy General Secretary shall, as directed by the CC, deputise for the General Secretary in respect of all the functions set out above.

11. DUTIES OF THE NATIONAL CHAIRPERSON

The National Chairperson shall rank after the General Secretary as a national office bearer of the SACP and shall be an ex officio member of all party structures. The National Chairperson shall:

11.1 Preside at all meetings of the CC and PB in conformity with the constitution and other rules and procedures adopted by these bodies.

11.2 Have a deliberative vote only.

11.3 The Deputy National Chairperson shall, as directed by the CC, deputise for the National Chairperson in respect of all the functions set out above.

12. DUTIES OF THE NATIONAL TREASURER

The National Treasurer shall:

12.1 Under the direction of the CC and PB take all necessary measures to ensure that the SACP is provided with sufficient means to carry out its political and organisational tasks.

12.2 Dispose of such funds as the CC authorises by general or specific mandate.

12.3 Be responsible for the safe-keeping and administration of all property and monies of the SACP.

12.4 Keep such books and accounts as will clearly record and reflect the financial position of the SACP and submit statements of income and expenditure to the CC and PB at intervals to be determined by the CC and PB.

12.5 Under the direction of the CC present audited financial statements and written financial reports to the Congress.

12.6 Be the convenor of a Finance Committee appointed by the CC.

13. SUB-NATIONAL STRUCTURES

13.1 The SACP shall have 9 provincial structures whose boundaries shall coincide with the boundaries of the 9 provinces of the country.

13.2. In each province, there shall be the following structures:

13.2.1 Provincial Councils and PECs.

13.2.2 District Councils and District Executive Committees (DECs).
13.2.3 Branches and Branch Executive Committees (BECs).

14. PROVINCIAL CONGRESS

Subject to the other provisions of this Constitution, the Provincial Congress shall be the highest structure of the SACP in each province. The Provincial Congress shall:

14.1 Be held every three years.

14.2 Be attended by elected branch delegates in proportion to their paid-up branch membership, ensuring that each branch has a minimum of one delegate. All members of the PEC, and at least one member of each DEC shall be ex-officio delegates.

14.3 Receive and consider reports from the PEC and, subject to the other provisions of the constitution, make whatever decisions it considers necessary to advance SACP organisation and policies in its province.

14.4 Elect the Provincial Secretary, Provincial Chairperson, Provincial Treasurer, Deputy Provincial Secretary, Deputy Provincial Chairperson, and up to 15 ordinary members of the PEC. Either the Secretary or the Deputy Secretary or both shall be full-time employees.

15. THE PROVINCIAL COUNCIL

Between Provincial Congresses, the Provincial Council shall be the highest decision-making body in the province. It shall:

15.1 Consist of all members of the PEC, the chairpersons and secretaries of each DEC, and delegates representing each branch in proportion to its membership, ensuring a minimum of one delegate for each branch.

15.2 Meet at least once in four months.

15.3 Fill any vacant PEC positions provided that these do not exceed 50% of the PEC.

15.4 The Provincial Council shall have the power to co-opt three additional members onto the PEC.

16. PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (PEC)

The Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) shall comprise those elected in terms of 14.4 and the Secretary and the Chairperson of each DEC. The PEC shall be the body responsible for carrying out all decisions of the Provincial Congress and the Provincial Council. It shall:

16.1 Meet immediately after its election to elect a Provincial Working Committee (PWC). The PWC shall consist of not less than 8 of members of the PEC, including all the Provincial Office Bearers. It shall meet at least once every fortnight and implement all the decisions of the PEC.

16.2 Meet at least once per month.

16.3 Submit reports to the CC, the Provincial Congress and the Provincial Council as often as is required.

16.4 Appoint provincial organisers and other staff in consultation with the CC.

16.5 Organise, establish and service districts and/or branches in its province.

16.6 Establish appropriate provincial structures consistent with national guidelines to carry out political, organisational, financial and campaign tasks.

17. DISTRICT CONGRESS

The PEC may form a District consisting of not less than 5 branches. After consulting with the PECs, the CC shall draw up a policy framework for PECs to determine the boundaries of districts. This policy framework shall take into account the boundaries and size of municipalities.

Subject to the provisions of this constitution, the District Congress shall be the highest structure of the SACP in each district. The District Congress shall:

17.1 Be held at least once every 2 years.

17.2 Be attended by delegates elected by all branches in proportion to their membership with a minimum of one delegate per branch. All members of the DEC shall be ex-officio delegates to the District Congress.

17.3 Receive and consider reports from the DEC and, subject to the provisions of the constitution, take all decisions to implement the policies and programmes of the SACP in the district.

17.4 Elect the District Secretary, Chairperson, Treasurer, Deputy Secretary, Deputy Chairperson and a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 7 District Executive members.

18. THE DISTRICT COUNCIL

Between District Congresses, the District Council shall be the highest decision-making body in the District. It shall consist of all members of the DEC and delegates in proportion to their branch membership with a minimum of one delegate per branch. The District Council shall:

18.1 Meet at least once every three months.

18.2 Submit reports of its proceedings to the DEC and the branches.

18.3 Have the power to fill vacancies on the DEC provided they do not exceed 50% of its members.

19. DISTRICT EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (DEC)
The District Executive Committee (DEC) shall carry out the decisions of the District Congress and District Council. The DEC shall:

19.1 Meet at least once a month.

19.2 Ensure the collection of subscriptions.

19.3 Submit reports to the PEC, the District Congress and District Council on the state of organisation and the finances of the District.

19.4 In consultation with the PEC, appoint a District organiser and staff where possible.

19.5 Organise, establish and service branches

19.6 In co-ordination with the District Council,

19.6.1 elaborate strategic, tactical and organisational tasks.

19.6.2 ensure full participation of SACP branches in SACP activities and in the national democratic and socialist struggles.

19.6.3 initiate, co-ordinate and support campaigns at local level.

19.6.4 spearhead and support programmes for socialist education.

19.6.5 develop working class leadership on the ground.

20. BRANCHES

The basic structure of the SACP is the branch, to be formed at a residential area or industrial location and every member shall be obliged to belong to a branch. After consultation with the PEC, the CC shall draw up a policy framework for the determination of the boundaries of branches. This policy framework shall take into account the ward boundaries within a municipality. The branch shall:

20.1 Consist of a minimum of 25 and a maximum of 100 members.

20.2 Ensure that its members are given every opportunity to exercise their basic democratic right to discuss and formulate policies.

20.3 Ensure that it acts as a basic unit of activity for members by elaborating strategic, tactical and organisational tasks for the branch, fully participates in the national democratic and socialist struggles, initiating and co-ordinating campaigns, conducting programmes on socialist education and developing working class leadership on the ground.

20.4 Meet at least once a month.

20.5 Elect a BEC at an annual branch meeting consisting of a Secretary, Chairperson, Treasurer, Deputy Chairperson and Deputy Secretary and not more than 5 ordinary committee members. The BEC shall submit regular reports to the DEC.

20.6 Where a vacancy arises among the office bearers of the branch, the next Branch General meeting shall elect an interim office bearer, who will serve the remainder of the period until the next AGM.

21. PARTY UNITS

21.1 Units of the SACP, consisting of no less than 6 members can be formed in circumstances where a branch cannot be formed. This unit should be represented by one person on the nearest BEC. All the members of such a unit shall have all the responsibilities and duties of SACP members but do not have voting rights at Branch meetings or District or Provincial Councils and Congresses. Such units shall be allowed to exist and function for no more than one year without launching as a full branch, unless otherwise authorised by the PEC.

22. QUORUMS

22.1 The launch of new branches, branch AGMs and branch general meetings: more than 50% of the members.

22.2 Units: more than 50% of the members.

22.3 District Congress and District Council: more than 50% of the DEC and more than 50% of the branches.

22.4 Provincial Congress and Provincial Council: more than 50% of the PEC and more than 50% of the branches.

22.5 BEC, DEC, PEC, PWC, CC, PB: more than 50% of the elected members on each of these structures.

22.6 If after one hour, the relevant constitutional structure has not quorated, the meeting is regarded as non-quorate.

22.7 Meetings which do not quorate shall re-convene between 2 and 14 days later. Delegates present at the said meeting shall form a quorum.

23. DISCIPLINE

23.1 A member who is guilty of a breach of any provision of this constitution or any other conduct detrimental to the SACP may be expelled, suspended from membership for a fixed period, or reprimanded after the appropriate level of constitutional structure has heard the evidence against him/her and heard his/her side of the story. One week's notice for disciplinary action shall be given. A disciplinary process shall not last longer than 90 days or until the next meeting of the CC from the date of the inception to finalisation by the CC.

23.2 The Provincial Council shall have the power to suspend members or impose lesser forms of punishment, which shall come into effect without prior approval of the CC. But such measures shall be immediately reported to the CC, which has the power to amend or reverse them.

23.3 Expulsion can be imposed only by the CC acting either on its own initiative or after receiving a fully documented recommendation from a PEC.

23.4 Members shall have the right to appeal to the CC against any disciplinary measures within 30 days after being notified of the decision. All appeals must be submitted through the Provincial Council concerned, which shall forward the appeal together with all other relevant documents to the CC.

23.5 The lodging of an appeal shall not postpone the operation of the measure.

23.6 A suspended member shall not be allowed to attend meetings of any SACP structure during the period of suspension except by special invitation.

23.7 Refusal to participate in a disciplinary hearing or to accept the authority of the relevant SACP structure to impose the appropriate disciplinary action shall constitute a serious offence, requiring an immediate suspension. At the end of such a period, the disciplinary hearing shall be restarted and on repeat of such refusal to participate fully, the member shall be expelled from the SACP by the CC.

23.8 An inactive member may have his or her membership annulled by the PEC which shall report such a decision to the CC together with all relevant information. The CC may confirm, amend or reverse such a decision. Absence from 3 consecutive meetings without legitimate apology from any executive structure of the SACP shall warrant the removal of the member from the executive.

23.9 Any member expelled from the SACP (and whose appeal has been rejected by the CC) shall have the right to appeal against such expulsion in writing to the next Congress. The written appeal shall be forwarded to the PB within 3 months of the date the member is informed of his or her expulsion.

23.10 In all cases of disciplinary action against a SACP member under this section, he or she shall, if the circumstances permit, be confronted with the charges against him or her in writing and be given the opportunity of fully stating his or her defence before any action is taken or recommended to be taken.

23.11 No member shall be judged or disciplined without a proper hearing.

23.12 Any member who does not pay his/her subscriptions, whether as a levy in terms of this constitution or a monthly subscription, for a period of 3 months, without prior arrangement with the relevant Branch, District, Provincial or National Treasurer shall be considered as a lapsed member. His/her membership can be renewed on payment of back subscriptions or through decision of the CC on receipt of an acceptable explanation for non-payment. All lapses of membership shall be reported to the CC together with the relevant information. The CC may confirm, amend or reverse such a decision.

24. ALTERATIONS TO THE CONSTITUTION

24.1 This constitution can be amended by a majority vote at National Congresses.

24.2 All proposed amendments to the constitution shall be submitted in writing to the CC not less than 3 months prior to a National Congress. The CC shall ensure that all provinces, districts and structures receive such amendments or any other amendments proposed by the CC not less than 2 months prior to the National Congress and all comments received shall be tabled at the National Congress.