United – towards an overwhelming ANC election victory!

The Central Committee (CC) of the South African Communist Party received and debated an extensive political report presented by the secretariat. In the run-up to the elections we believe it is important to celebrate the achievements and assess the challenges and difficulties of ten years of freedom. In particular the CC underlined two key aspects of our government’s own assessment of the past 10 years. In its important ten-year overview (“Towards a Ten Year Review”) government notes: “The advances made in the first decade by far supersede the weaknesses. Yet, if all indicators were to continue along the same trajectory, especially in respect of the dynamic of economic inclusion and exclusion, we could soon reach a point where the negatives start to overwhelm the positives.” We note that others, like the Democratic Alliance’s Tony Leon, have also quoted this passage for their own purposes and with some malign glee. However, what they have failed to quote is another critical insight contained in government’s ten year review: “From an assessment of the various themes, it can be seen that the government’s successes occur more often in areas where it has significant control and its lack of immediate success occurs more often in those areas where it may only have indirect influence.” Taken together, these and other critical strategic insights go to the heart of the matter. This appraisal by government explains the ANC election manifesto’s commitment to a strong, developmental state and parastatal sector. It explains the commitment to spend R100 billion of public money to drive a massive infrastructural programme. It explains the prioritisation of creating work and of mobilising millions of ordinary South Africans to work together with government to carry forward transformation. As government’s review correctly implies, wherever there has been a reliance on private capital to drive transformation, there has been disappointment and frustration. In its elections campaigning for an overwhelming ANC victory, the SACP will point out how capitalists have systematically sought to undermine major gains. The very significant legislative and regulatory gains made by workers in terms of labour rights, safety regulations, minimum wage determinations for farm and domestic workers, or security of tenure rights on farms are often systematically undermined. Private capital has retrenched, casualised and outsourced – depriving workers of the hard fought-for gains they had made in terms of pensions, medical aid and other rights. Private capital has made solemn commitments to create jobs at the Jobs Summit and the Growth and Development Summit, but everywhere it is importing machinery and firing workers, or disinvesting. In the election campaign the SACP has every intention of placing the principal blame for many of the social and economic challenges that confront our people squarely where it belongs. As we speak, there are a number of worker struggles going on. One strong thread that runs through these is the impact of casualisation and outsourcing, and of retrenchment. We condemn the stubbornness of Equity Aviation in persisting with its unilateral increase of working hours without increasing wages, and we call on Transnet to assume some responsibility. It was Transnet that privatised this function and reached an agreement with affected workers that there would be no downward variation of conditions for a period of about two years. This agreement has been flagrantly broken. The CC pledged to mobilise SACP structures in support of these worker struggles. In the campaign, the SACP will be taking further its Red October campaign, focusing in particular on the most vulnerable sectors of the working class – rural workers, casualised workers, those in the “informal” sector. Vulnerability in these sectors often particularly affects women. We are broadening this campaign to focus on acceleration of land and agrarian transformation, with a particular focus on access to productive land for household-based subsistence farming. We will also be engaging all the role-players in this regard, including white commercial agriculture. The Party, along with the ANC, will also be paying particular attention to two key provinces, KZN and the Western Cape . In these provinces in particular, there are sections of the working class that, for various reasons, have tended to vote for opposition parties. The SACP will actively engage with these sections of the working class, and we will ask them to consider the consistent anti-worker, anti-trade union, and anti-poor stance of the DA and the IFP. These parties are also the strongest advocates of wholesale privatisation, outsourcing and casualisation. Dominated by grandees from the past, they have launched vicious attacks on working people, calling for less regulation of the labour market, and for poverty wages.

Extract from a press statement of the South African Communist Party Central Committee, 13-14 February 2004