SACP Media Release, 2 March 2008

SACP Central Committee Press Statement

The SACP Central Committee met in Johannesburg over the weekend of the 29th February – 2nd March.

The CC debated and adopted a Political Report that focused on an analysis of the political situation prevailing after the ANC’s December 2007 52nd National Conference in Polokwane. The SACP believes that the principal feature of this conference was the affirming by thousands of branch delegates of inner organizational democracy, collective leadership and the importance of reclaiming for the ANC and its alliance a central place in strategic policy making.

This democratic wave must be seen against the backdrop of a decade in which the ANC and its alliance partners have been subjected to attempts at marginalization in the interests of using the state to drive through a pro-big business policy package characterized by a blend of neo-liberalism and a subordinate, paternalistic, top-down welfarism directed to the poor. This welfarism has resulted in many important ameliorative changes but without fundamentally transforming the crisis of underdevelopment afflicting the majority of our people.

The SACP is encouraged by a number of positive developments since Polokwane, in particular the ANC’s January 8th statement calling for a year of popular mobilization to build a caring society. However, this is not a moment for complacency, still less triumphalism. We must work hard to build the unity of our movement on the basis of a common programme of action rooted amongst the workers and poor of our country. In building this unity we must root out all attempts at institutionalizing factions. The Party says no to factionalism, but yes to the sharpening of policy debate and class struggle. We cannot allow the outcome of Polokwane to be no more than an important but limited change in leadership style.

We have to ensure that we use the new reality to elaborate and implement policies and programmes that go beyond lowering the cost to doing business for business and amelioration for the poor. We need policies and programmes that actively transform the current growth path that continues to reproduce inequality, unemployment levels stuck stubbornly at close to 40%, and wide-ranging poverty.

In this regard, the CC noted that the recent State of Nation Address and the 2008/9 budget largely represent business as usual, with a confusing plethora of apex priorities in which key strategic objectives are muddled up with many other matters. A budgeted surplus and insufficient allocation to potentially transformative programmes like industrial policy, the expanded public works programme, and large-scale rural and agricultural reform are all symptomatic of a weak strategic planning process in the state.

Government’s response to spiraling food prices remains entirely inadequate and the Reserve Bank’s mechanical and singular commitment to a 3-6% inflation band is in need of a thorough reassessment.

The CC was briefed by the director general of Public Enterprises on the electricity generation crisis. The CC expressed its appreciation for this briefing, and made several further observations. It is absolutely unacceptable that the mining houses, now benefiting from huge surges in international commodity prices, should be threatening retrenchment of thousands of mine-workers. These threats from the mining houses and other business quarters need to be seen for what they are – they are seeking leverage to retain their historic monopoly over energy policy including energy pricing. Government has said that the electricity generation crisis is the result of policy errors in the late 1990s, as well as managerial failure at some Eskom power stations, including the inexplicable failure to build up coal reserves. If heads must roll we cannot allow it be the workers who take the knock.

The CC has mandated the SACP, working with its allies, to call for a people’s energy summit. It is critical that we use the electricity crisis as an opportunity to open up a comprehensive review of energy policy – the problematic historical bias to the mining houses, the question of pro-poor pricing, the policy incoherence and looming crisis in electricity reticulation infrastructure, and the importance of moving towards renewable energy sources where feasible.

The CC also received comprehensive reports on the government’s position on the ongoing WTO and EU “economic partnership agreements” (EPA) negotiations. The SACP expresses its strongest condemnation of the EU’s remorseless bullying particularly of the least developed countries of our region, forcing them into so-called “partnership” agreements that will deepen their neo-colonial plight. The current principal objective of the developed north in the present round of trade negotiations is, however, to open up the economies of middle-ranking countries (like SA) to multi-national domination, including in the services sector.

The heightened trade pressures from the developed North must be seen in the global context in which the EU has been losing considerable ground in Africa to emerging economies like India, Brazil and particularly China. The additional context is one in which the US is moving into likely recession, a recession that will impact seriously on the EU, but from which China is relatively de-linked. We now have a new 21st global reality in which the US and EU catch a cold and emergent economic powers like China might, at most, sneeze. It would be gravely short-sighted in these circumstances for SA and its region to lock itself into unfavourable, unbalanced trade agreements with the EU, for instance, one of whose requirements is that we should not enter into more favourable trade agreements with anyone else.

The SACP calls for a comprehensive review of the interim EPAs that some countries were forced to sign at the end of last year under threat of severe economic disruption. The SACP, together with its allies, will be planning a series of interventions in support of our government’s principled position in these trade negotiations.

Also on the agenda of the CC was an input by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, cde Bridget Mabandla, on restructuring of the criminal justice cluster. The CC expressed its appreciation to the Minister for availing herself and for engaging constructively with the concerns of the SACP.

The Central Committee noted that the credibility of the criminal justice system is at an all time low since 1994. We accepted that as a Party, and indeed as an Alliance, we have tended to foreground economic and, to some extent, social policy challenges. We have tended to treat the criminal justice cluster as a distant step-child, and we have failed to engage actively. This has left a situation in which narrow sectoral entities like Business Against Crime have been able to occupy an inside track in influencing government policy. While the fight against crime requires all sectors of South Africa to play an active role, we must ensure that popular formations, not least the Alliance become much more active in this regard.

The SACP supports the ANC’s Polokwane resolution on the disbanding of the DSO (Scorpions) and the relocation of capacity to fight organized crime within the SAPS. The need for such a disbanding and relocation has been further underlined by the public release last week of the report of the parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence on the Special ‘Browse’ Mole document. The JSCI’s report was based on a formal request to the Speaker of Parliament by the SACP. The SACP calls on the government to move rapidly to suspend and charge those revealed to have been engaged in illegal activities in the DSO, and to further pursue information peddlers. The role of the latter underlines the imperative of introducing much greater regulation of the private intelligence sector within our country.

In approaching the DSO disbanding the SACP believes that this must not be treated as a stand-alone matter. It must be part of a comprehensive overhaul of the entire criminal justice system that helps to strengthen our capacity to fight crime, including organized crime, and that actively links the social dimension (including the priorities of rehabilitation and building social cohesion) to such transformation. We call on government to make public its Criminal Justice Review to empower broad public involvement in this issue, an issue that impacts particularly on the lives of working class people. We call on Parliament to ensure that there is effective public participation in the hearings on the DSO Bills and that these hearings are contextualized within the strategic priority of a comprehensive transformation of the criminal justice cluster.

The SACP will make submissions to Parliament on these matters. Together with our allies we will ensure that there is more effective popular mobilization in the fight against crime, including through street committees, Community Safety Forums, Community Police Forums and other structures.

The CC joins the great majority of South Africans in condemning the appalling racist humiliation of black workers in a residence of the UOFS. The SACP salutes the active role played by our own youth structures on the campus in exposing and condemning these actions. We further note that, regrettably, this is not an isolated event and on many campuses in our country black workers and student experience racial harassment and discrimination.

The Central Committee noted the COSATU CEC decisions relating to this matter. The SACP has already indicated that we have done everything in our power to get to the bottom of this matter and that we can find absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Charles Modise (currently in detention in Kimberley) ever made a donation of R500,000 to the SACP and still less that Willie Madisha passed on this amount to our general secretary, cde Blade Nzimande. However, in the interests of leaving absolutely no stone unturned we further commissioned an independent forensic audit by SAB&T Chartered Accountants.

In their report to the SACP, SAB&T affirm that:

“No tangible and corroborating evidence could be located and/or traced so as to substantiate the allegation made by Mr Madisha. Madisha had ample opportunity to raise the issue of the alleged donation during August 2002, and subsequently in official meetings and structures of the SACP. He did not utilise the opportunities presented to do so. Other possible witnesses mentioned by Madisha in his various statements, could not be interviewed as Madisha would not direct us to them. It would not have been financially judicious to make more effort to trace these possible witnesses as their possible contribution/s to a more positive conclusion of the investigation is seriously doubted.”

We call on the SAPS to bring this matter to finality and particularly to investigate the probability that both Modise and Madisha have involved themselves in serious perjury. We condemn the manner in which sections of the media, notably the SABC, continue to refer to this matter as “the R500,000 donation to the SACP” as if this was a reality and as if COSATU’s recent move was, for instance, a move against a whistle-blower.

In regard to the unlawful and unprecedented Kosovan independence declaration, the CC condemns the further ethnic disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, a disintegration that has everything to do with the geo-political ambitions of key European powers.

We welcome the agreement concluded in Kenya and the possibility it now offers for stabilization and peace – necessary conditions for the development of the country. We condemn the gross human rights abuses that have occurred particularly from the side of state forces, and we note the lessons that we need to learn about the dangers of inter-elite rivalries and the opportunistic exploitation of ethnic differences.

At the end of this month we shall be commemorating the 20th anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, a turning point in the struggle for the liberation of our region. On this occasion we shall be calling on the SA government to award cde Fidel Castro with the Companions of OR Tambo award, in recognition of his role as commander in chief of the Cuban armed forces and as leader of the Cuban people and their outstanding overall internationalist contribution to the liberation and development of our region.

The SACP is deeply concerned at the way in which the SA government has once more mismanaged the Zimbabwe crisis, marginalizing the principles of the SADC protocols on elections. In effect, our government has been saying that conditions for acceptable elections in Zimbabwe at the end of the month are in place and all that remains are “procedural” matters. While SA cannot single-handedly solve the problems of Zimbabwe, the least we can do is to condemn the unilateral announcement of the election date and the impossibility of implementing satisfactory conditions for elections in such a short space of time. All of this lays the basis for the repetition of the same vicious cycle and deepening crisis in Zimbabwe.

The SACP condemns ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, and the death of more than 60 people in the Gaza enclave in the past days.

In the coming months the SACP will be re-invigorating its popular campaigns, particularly in the context of the 15th anniversary commemoration of the assassination of cde Chris Hani and the 30th anniversary of the death of cde Moses Kotane. Among our key focuses will be the struggle for transformed public health care. The SACP will also fully support COSATU struggles in defence of jobs.

2nd March 2008

Issued by the SACP.
Contact, Malesela Maleka, SACP Spokesperson

By e-mail

2230 words