NUMSA Response to the SACP November 2014 Augmented Central Committee
17 December 2014
“……..there is a small, but lingering, phenomenon in the trade union movement that of wanting to deliberately cause strain and divide the labour movement from the SACP and the ANC. We must intensify ideological work to expose and defeat this phenomenon within the ranks of COSATU and the progressive trade union movement.” (SACP 13th Congress Political Report, 2012)
“While no-one would dispute the importance of the SACP contesting the state, and exercising leadership positions at various level, we must objectively analyse whether a proper balance is being achieved between leading and mobilising social power from below of the working class, with participation in the state machinery. Failure to transform power relations in society at large, will lead us to continue to be captured by those same power relations in the state. We should remember that it was Lenin who said that “A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell, it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-democratic republic can shake it.
In the course of this contestation, a suggestion has emerged that COSATU cannot claim independence from the Party, because the SACP is the working class vanguard. It is argued that there would need to be a common approach with the SACP on major political issues, before COSATU pronounces its view. This view, if accepted, would lead to paralysis of the organisation, and a loss of independence, and internal democracy. We have already seen, with the ANC, that a mechanical interpretation of the ANC being leader of the Alliance was used by the right wing before Polokwane in an attempt to subordinate COSATU. If COSATU was subordinate to the Party as the working class vanguard, and to the ANC as the leader of the Alliance, it may as well surrender its role as an independent voice of organised workers, since it would become a conveyor belt of other organisations. (COSATU 11th Congress Political Report, 2012)
The Augmented Central Committee of the SACP, held on 28—30 November 2014, issued a statement titled “Expose the regime change agenda! Defend our democratic institutions! Build the unity of the working class!”.
We are not surprised that this label of a “regime change agenda” has been mentioned in a malicious document that is currently circulating, penned by so-called “concerned NUMSA members”. Instead of engaging in open ideological contest, the faceless writers of that nasty document decided to engage in primitive and underhanded tactics against us. We are however not surprised, this is class struggle.
It started with Zwelinzima Vavi, who was accused, by some intelligence document that circulated in COSATU circles, of working with opposition parties and plotting with foreign intelligence agencies. Later on, it was Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela, accused of working for foreign agencies to wreck South Africa’s democratic institution. Now it is NUMSA. We are accused of working with international forces to implement a “regime change agenda” in South Africa.
We freely and openly admit that we do want a regime change indeed. We want a change from the current regime of Colonialism of a Special Type to a revolutionary-democratic regime as a transitional stepping stone towards socialism. We have said this all along, and we owe no one an apology!
Time was when the SACP also held the same belief with us – the belief that our National Democratic Revolution must be contested for a socialist outcome for South Africa. Clearly, the SACP has now completely abandoned the struggle for socialism. We illustrate this most obvious fact very clearly below.
We found it necessary to begin responding to attacks that are directed at us, and to set the record straight, beginning with a response to the current SACP.
As NUMSA we remain a Marxist-Leninist inspired red trade union, we state it for the record that we will continue to unashamedly use the historic revolutionary teachings of the South African Communist Party of Joe Slovo and Chris Hani. We will continue to stand firm in defense of the revolutionary and path-breaking perspectives that the historical SACP produced, which the SACP of Blade Nzimande and his friends in the ANC government has now completely abandoned.
For us, for example, the theoretical approach and formulations of the SACP’s 1962 Programme and those of the 1989 Programme, remain as relevant as ever, notwithstanding some of the reforms South African colonial capitalism has undergone in the past 20 years!
Today, including in the recently released SACP Discussion document, any half-baked Marxist, let alone a Marxist-Leninist, will be hard pressed to find an iota of socialist revolutionary content in the SACP of Blade Nzimande and his friends in the ANC neoliberal capitalist government. This is not surprising to us. Blade and his friends are now the mouthpieces of South African neoliberal capitalism, and live by it.
History will judge very harshly the Blade Nzimandes of this world and his friends for literary killing a once proud revolutionary socialist political organ of the South African working class. We are absolutely certain of this.
2. Once more on the role of the SACP in the crisis in COSATU
The SACP hypocritically and vehemently denies its destructive role in the current crisis in COSATU.
It claims that we have been expelled because we violated the “one industry, one union” principle of COSATU. However, it is now well known that in his Political Report to the 13th Congress of the SACP, Blade Nzimande openly told the whole world that they will intervene in COSATU to “isolate and defeat” some “lingering phenomenon”. The result of that intervention, is a COSATU in tatters. Let us quote him in detail:
“The only issue that created serious tensions between COSATU and the SACP was that relating to the manner in which the deployment of SACP cadres was raised in the public domain without raising this matter with the SACP first. Nevertheless after bilateral discussions we managed to resolve this matter in a manner that has contributed to the further strengthening of our relations. Unfortunately the NUMSA leadership seems to have continued to raise this matter in a manner that seems to be directed at discrediting the SACP, its leadership and its decisions, and seems to be aimed at negatively harming the image and integrity of the SACP rather than improving relations amongst ourselves. We have told NUMSA in a very forthright manner that it is not the custodian of the decisions of the SACP, nor should it seek to act as such in future. As the SACP however, and as the vanguard Party of the working class, we must not allow ourselves to be irritated and diverted by some of this behaviour, but instead we need to be focused on strengthening relations with COSATU and all its affiliates. We all know that enemies of the working class will always attempt to drive a wedge between communists and the labour movement. We must protect this relationship with all we have.
However it is important that we must properly identify any threats to COSATU in particular during this period moving forward. As highlighted earlier, the continuing massive capitalist restructuring of the workplace constitutes a serious threat to the power and organisational capacity of organised workers in general and COSATU in particular. Secondly, the phenomenon of business unionism – using one’s position in the labour movement to advance private and personal accumulation interests – poses a very serious threat to the unity, militancy and revolutionary character of COSATU. It is a phenomenon we must fight in the same way as we fight corruption and tenderpreneurship, as it is no different from this. Thirdly, there is a small, but lingering, phenomenon in the trade union movement that of wanting to deliberately cause strain and divide the labour movement from the SACP and the ANC. We must intensify ideological work to expose and defeat this phenomenon within the ranks of COSATU and the progressive trade union movement”.
This issue, the issue of the SACP leadership embedding itself in the capitalist state and in the process the SACP abandoning genuine struggles of the working class by defending neoliberal capitalism, and therefore the SACP being “irritated” when the working class attack the neoliberal capitalism of the ANC/SACP government, is therefore the dominant way in which the abandonment of the socialist revolution by the SACP and its signing up for neoliberal capitalism expresses itself. As we explain in this Response, this is at the heart of the matter in the continuing paralysing crisis in Cosatu.
For anyone who is confused about the crisis in COSATU, the massive exodus of SACP cadres into the ANC/SACP capitalist state provides the best handle to understand what is behind the crisis in COSATU.
The SACP has abandoned the struggle for socialism, it has abandoned the critique of neoliberalism, and it has abandoned the critique of the capitalist state policies in South Africa. In short the SACP has abandoned the mass-based, working class struggle against white monopoly capitalism. It has abandoned the struggle for socialism.
Note that in its 2014 Discussion Document the SACP quite unashamedly states that most of the policies required to achieve its objectives are already in place!
Our sustained critique of the neoliberal policies of the ANC/SACP capitalist government and the role of the SACP in that government, did not earn us friends in the SACP leadership. So, the SACP decided to intervene within COSATU to “expose and defeat” us. The crisis in COSATU is because the SACP intervened to “expose and defeat” a lingering phenomenon and the irritation that continued to question the SACP’s role in the capitalist state. We will show that the SACP sought to achieve this by paralyzing the unity of the COSATU CEC.
The SACP is now attempting to wiggle itself out of this charge by coming with all sorts of labels and diversions. The most recent line of defense from the SACP, coming from their Augmented Central Committee, is that NUMSA has been expelled because we violated the “one industry, one union” principle. This reasoning is meant to hide the divisive role of the SACP in the trade union movement after the SACP leaders embedded themselves in the capitalist state.
As usual the SACP start by prefacing their statements on the COSATU crisis with false conciliatory lines and calls for unity, meant to mislead the readers. Here is what they say:
“The SACP re-iterates its support for the ANC-led process to defend and re-build the unity of COSATU. This can only be achieved by not compromising on the founding principles of the Federation, and notably condemning cannibalising, membership poaching that offends the core principle of “one industry, one union”. The NUMSA leadership was given ample opportunity at the last COSATU CEC to indicate a preparedness to work for unity within the Federation. In a lengthy presentation, over two hours and forty-five minutes, it defiantly refused to prioritise principled unity over factional self-interest”.
This statement is meant to make readers forget that the SACP decided to violate the independence of our Federation. Readers are now supposed to forget that the SACP promised to intervene inside COSATU to “expose and defeat” a lingering phenomenon “within the ranks of COSATU and the progressive trade union movement”.
No matter how much the SACP can attempt to create diversions and hide behind calls to re-build and unite COSATU, we know that the root causes of the crisis in COSATU lie with the fact that the SACP has chosen to embed itself in the capitalist state and in the process, has acquired a heightened sensitivity to the critique of the neoliberal policies that continue to be pursued by the ANC/SACP government.
The COSATU Central Executive Committee (23—25 August, 2010) observed that former SACP leaders tend to become more rightwing than some ANC conservatives upon assuming positions in government. The COSATU CEC was appalled by the rate at which these SACP leaders were drifting to the right upon earning government perks. The COSATU CEC noted the following:
“A major concern for COSATU is that some of the former leaders of the SACP in government have become more conservative and rightwing than the traditional ANC conservatives. Their brutality against the working class seems to be informed by a recognition on their part that the working class can’t be left unchecked as it is a powerful block and secondly they seem to want to prove to all that they are no longer communists”.
In elaborating the discussion held by this August 2010 CEC, the COSATU 11th Congress Political Report states that:
“One of the key areas debated in the August 2010 CEC is the SACP’s seemingly increasing conservative approach on challenges facing society. This was informed inter alia by the SACP response to the 2010 State of the Nation address, the 2010/11-budget speech as well as its initial mixed signals before pulling its weight behind struggles against e-toll. The SACP has mainly welcomed and supported almost everything coming from the State…In the past the CEC has expressed the view that the SACP General Secretary must return to the SACP Head Quarters and lead the party on a full time basis so that it can confront the challenges facing the working class. The CEC reiterated that view. It was emphasised that this was a plea and not a command!”
The COSATU 11th Congress Political Report, delivered in 2012, continued to observe that:
A troubling development in COSATU / SACP relations is the perception that the Party is acting to divide the CEC on consensus decisions that it has taken. There have been a number of issues in recent times where the CEC has resolved matters without dissent. But once the Party meets, and pronounces differently, the CEC cohesion takes a strain. A further problem is differences in our interpretation of the current political situation. The Party interprets the victory of Comrade Zuma and the appointment of its leaders in Cabinet as a major breakthrough, which must be defended uncritically at all costs. This threatens to bring the pendulum back to the domination of the SACP by government, which characterised the situation in 1994, after the loss of Cde Chris Hani, when the Party was dominated by a conservative cabinet. Who can forget the SACP that was beholden to the state, defending GEAR and driving a host of anti-worker programmes such as privatisation during the period between 1994 and 1998?”
This is not NUMSA making this assessment: it is the now divided COSATU! Cronin and Blade and their friends in the ANC/SACP government must deal with that. We as NUMSA, during the course of 2013, consistently and independently elaborated the COSATU assessment. When our General Secretary called Cronin the “Marxist Pontiff”, it was basically a battle to defend the independence of COSATU to think, to arrive at decisions independently and to implement its decisions. Our General Secretary even had a skirmish with Cronin, when Cronin defended e-tolls and insulted COSATU when COSATU raised its objections and proposed a campaign, in line with its 11th Congress resolutions, against e-tolls.
We have thought it prudent for the readers of this statement to see for themselves how the problems in COSATU evolved, and how COSATU itself understood their genesis. It is important that the readers go back to the August 2010 COSATU CEC resolutions, the COSATU Political Report to the 2011 Central Committee, the Political Report to the 2012 SACP Congress, and the Political Report to the 11th Congress of COSATU (2012).
There is a clear trail of the divisive role of the SACP. What the SACP did, in order to suppress COSATU’s critique of the continued implementation of neoliberal policies by the ANC/SACP government, was to divide the CEC of COSATU on consensus decisions that were arrived at independently within COSATU.
The SACP has shamelessly and consistently exploited the fact that some leaders who sit in the COSATU CEC are also members of the SACP Central Committee. As the SACP was getting more conservative, the COSATU CEC was getting more critical, and so to resolve this gulf, the SACP used those leaders in the COSATU CEC who sit on the SACP Central Committee to “surgically remove”, “expose and defeat” any critical voice within COSATU.
SACP employees can write their verbose claptrap in the pages of Umsebenzi and the New Age all they want, Jeremy Cronin can play pacifier and pretend to douse the blazes that are raging in our Federation while jabbing at us as “anti-majoritarian workerists”, and Blade Nzimande can label us “stinking corpses”, the fact remains that COSATU itself has put it on record and knows how the SACP worked hard to divide it, only to turn around with calls to “rebuild” COSATU in the SACP’s own image, as a toy telephone.
The questions members and functionaries of the SACP need to ask themselves is: why, if the SACP is playing a revolutionary vanguard role, it is the ANC that is trying to facilitate the process of unity in COSATU and not the SACP? Why is the rightwing led ANC now taking leadership in an attempt to resolve the problems in COSATU, and not the supposed vanguard of the working class? In whose class interests can an ANC rightwing leadership resolve the crisis in Cosatu? Clear answers to these questions are buried in the Political Report to the 11th Congress of COSATU and in the various analyses that we, as NUMSA, have consistently made.
In these difficult times for the South African working class, the SACP of Cronin and Blade Nzimande always seeks to project itself as a unifier, pacifier and a builder of COSATU. Yet its footprints and fingerprints are all over the destruction that is unfolding in COSATU. This type of SACP, embedded in the state and maintaining its government positions by dividing the CEC of COSATU, refuses for COSATU to move an inch independently. This SACP holds a huge knobkerrie of ideological labels to thump us if COSATU just moves an inch independently.
Remember when COSATU convened a Civil Society Conference in line with its resolutions? In response to that Civil Society Conference the SACP started talking about “anti-majoritarian offensive”, the Chairperson of the SACP, in his capacity as the ANC Secretary General – Gwede Mantashe – raised the issue of COSATU doing a regime change in South Africa by attempting to do an MDC on the ANC. When COSATU pursued its independent campaign against e-tolls, the first deputy general secretary of the SACP charged that COSATU and the DA were now “strange bedfellows” and that somehow, the Federation was “ideologically confused” to oppose e-tolls. Without any shame, Cronin then went on to lecture us on how good e-tolls were, if wisely and appropriately implemented.
While the 9th Congress of COSATU encouraged workers to “consistently expose and struggle against the neo-liberal agenda of the state, which leads to the growing impoverishment of the working class and the poor”, the General Secretary of the SACP told South Africans that there is no longer neoliberalism in the state, effectively because now he is embedded in it.
Justice Malala, in his show on 25 June 2013, which is freely available on YouTube, asked the SACP General Secretary Blade Nzimande whether the NDP is a “cut and paste” from the DA policies, he denied this, showing that he had not read neither the NDP nor DA policies, which means he opposes what he does not understand and supports what he claims to oppose!
When asked whether he, Blade Nzimande, thinks the Zuma administration is implementing the neoliberal agenda, he flatly denied. In trying to define what neoliberalism is, he just hobbled through with big English and a strained voice. Exposing the neoliberal agenda of the Zuma administration is therefore bound to come into conflict with the current neoliberal capitalist ideological orientation of the SACP.
In his attempt to respond to Steven Friedman’s insightful analysis of the divisive role of the SACP in the crisis in COSATU, the first deputy general secretary of the SACP, Cronin, misled the public when he tried to hide the divisive role of the SACP in COSATU. He instead blames NUMSA for the divisions, thinking that Friedman will be fooled into forgetting the statement about “the lingering phenomenon”.
In his attempt to shift the blame to NUMSA Jeremy Cronin said: “there are dozens of NUMSA leadership statements accusing the SACP of all manner of sins, including seeking to divide COSATU. It is, however, the NUMSA leadership that long ago pronounced COSATU as being fatally divided. See, for instance their document “Ideological Reflections and Responses to some recent attacks” (NUMSA Special NEC, 15 September 2013)”. But, dear Cronin, those dozens of statements by NUMSA are fighting the rightward drift and the growing conservatism of the SACP, long noted by COSATU!
As amply demonstrated by the quotes that preface this statement, the SACP does not want to see an independent COSATU, a COSATU that takes decisions and pronounces on those decisions without clearance from the vanguard.
The Political Report to the COSATU 11th Congress foresaw what was going to happen to the Federation as a result of the SACP’s shenanigans: “[it] would lead to paralysis of the organisation, and a loss of independence, and internal democracy”.
From what we have said above, and what is actually taking place in South Africa today, the battle in COSATU is about the independence of the Federation from the SACP and the ANC; it is about the right of the Federation to think and act independently of the ANC and the SACP; it is about genuine respect and a refusal to be treated as junior partners in the Alliance. Given the configuration of class forces and the scale of the embeddedness of the SACP in the capitalist state, as NUMSA we came to the painful conclusion that the Alliance is totally irredeemable, it is no longer a viable vehicle for advancing towards socialism; it has become a booby-trap for the working class.
COSATU itself made the following observation in its 9th Congress:
The Alliance is meant to achieve a minimum programme and, given its multi-class character and the associated limitations, the Alliance cannot be the vehicle to achieve an egalitarian society.
Even the Political Report to the 11th Congress acknowledges COSATU’s 2015 political strategy is at crossroads, that the Federation:
…continues to confront the severe limitations placed on this strategy by an untransformed state; and an ANC, and Alliance which appears unable…to move the country forward. We therefore need to consider whether our current strategy is adequate, and what more, or different, can be done, to move the country onto a new political path.
What Jeremy Cronin does not tell his readers is that long before we wrote that document on “Ideological Reflections”, his lieutenants in the COSATU CEC, led by Marshall Fikile Majola, then General Secretary of NEHAWU, who sits in the SACP Central Committee with others, openly proclaimed that there is a “rupture in COSATU”, that they were prepared “for a split” of the Federation, that Vavi is the “elephant in the room”.
Perhaps Cronin has forgotten all this?
These statements by Fikile Majola were made in the first Central Executive Committee meeting of COSATU in 2013. Majola then appointed himself as Chief Surgeon of the SACP, and called for the “surgical removal” of people from the Federation and went on a rant about “anti-majoritarian liberal offensive” and “workerism”, all labels activated by no less than Jeremy Cronin himself. Our paper on “Ideological Reflections” was a result of the crisis that was already full-blown in COSATU.
We must mention that having played a sterling role in wrecking the unity and cohesion of the COSATU CEC, Majola and his SACP friends, particularly Senzeni Zokwana and Joe Mpisi among others, exited the Federation to parliament. Majola was rewarded with the position of being the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Energy. Senzeni Zokwana is now Minister of Agriculture. Mpisi sits comfortably in the Gauteng legislature.
Others, such as the CEPPWAWU General Secretary, Simon Mofokeng, whose union never held a single constitutional meeting at a national level, were all out to defend themselves against “Vavi’s interference” within their unions, when Vavi began to raise questions about their conduct. Cronin must provide a proper chronology of events, which has been outlined in minute detail in the Political Report to the 11th Congress of COSATU by none other than Zwelinzima Vavi.
It was not NUMSA that created divisions in COSATU, it was the SACP Central Committee members who sat in the COSATU Central Executive Committee who destroyed the unity and cohesion of COSATU on consensus positions, as the Political Report to the 11th Congress of COSATU correctly says. Cronin must be logical and chronological!
Anyone who cares to read the Political Report to the 11th Congress of COSATU will know that COSATU knows that the SACP has become conservative and has sought to suppress the critical voice of the Federation by sowing divisions in the COSATU CEC. As NUMSA, we found this completely and totally unacceptable.
3. Once more on the roots of the South African crises
One way in which the ideological differences between NUMSA and the SACP of Blade Nzimande manifest themselves is in how we understand the roots of the South African crisis. In its Augmented Central Committee statement, the SACP says:
“The persistence of the triple crisis in our society is directly linked to a deeply problematic capitalist growth path, and the massive disinvestment out of our country over the past 2 decades by monopoly capital. This disinvestment has involved illegal capital flight, as well as dual listings, transfer pricing, tax avoidance, and financialisation.
This is the root cause of our persisting socio-economic crises. However, opposition forces (neo-liberals and pseudo-left populists alike), seek to shift all blame on to the ANC-led government.”
This is nothing but obfuscation. What is “this”, which is the cause of “our persisting socio-economic crises”? Note that the statement cleverly takes the neoliberals out of the ANC/SACP-led government, unbelievable!
The first paragraph quoted above, just lists in a descriptive manner what has happened in the South African capitalist growth path without any theoretical synthesis. The SACP statement says we cannot blame the ANC-led government for this growth path, i.e. for neoliberal policies. If we cannot blame the ANC-led government for the neoliberal growth path, then who, according to the SACP, is to blame and what is the SACP doing about it?
Searching throughout the Augmented Central Committee statement, we found no answer. Blame monopoly capital? But how does the SACP locate monopoly capital outside of the ANC-led government and indeed, outside of the ANC itself? For, by so doing, the SACP obfuscates and makes it impossible for the working class to understand why the ANC of today is so wedded to neoliberalism.
In our criticism of the SACP’s hollow call for an “anti-monopoly capitalist front” in our 3 December 2013 statement, we said:
“We in NUMSA, in our National Executive Committee document have showed how the SACP has defended white monopoly capitalism against nationalization, on the grounds that nationalization is meant to rescue “narrow BEE capital”. We are quite amazed that today, the SACP is against the “monopoly capitalists”, but says nothing about how it plans to take ownership of the means of production from the same “monopoly capitalist”.
Without any intellectual pretence, the SACP liberally makes the colonial character of South African monopoly capital to disappear, just like that. It is no longer “white monopoly capitalism” that it is against; it is just “monopoly capitalism”. Theoretically, this means a denial of the continued persistence of Colonialism of a Special Type in South Africa by the SACP of Blade Nzimande.
The SACP conveniently hides where, politically, the “narrow BEE collaborators” are concentrated. These “narrow BEE collaborators” fought valiantly, side by side with the SACP, against nationalization. They are in the ANC. We now know that each mining house, monopoly industry, has an ANC surrogate in its executive, and these “narrow BEE collaborators”, the compradors, are leading the ANC today, with Blade Nzimande. For example, the current deputy president of the ANC and the chairperson are big shareholders of mining houses. Why in hell would they agree to have their wealth “nationalised”? Blade Nzimande serves with these individuals on the ANC National Executive Committee. We find it hard not to have contempt for the “anti-monopoly capitalist front” the SACP Central Committee Statement is calling for. This is a hollow front, a “pseudo-revolutionary-sounding phrase” that not so cleverly masks the defense of “white monopoly capitalism” in post 1994 South Africa”.
In the light of the ANC having adopted neoliberalism, what did the SACP think will be the behavior of monopoly capital, invest a lot in manufacturing, not export profits, employ more people, pay more taxes to build infrastructure, and so on?
Note once again that the SACP of Blade Nzimande continues to run away from mentioning the colonial nature of “monopoly capital” as “white monopoly capital”. The piece written by the first deputy general secretary of the SACP, Cronin, in an attempt to respond to our document on “Ideological Reflections”, shows how far the SACP leadership has gone to the right. He now asks: does it make a difference whether monopoly capital is pink or yellow? Since when did the SACP become so insensitive to the racist and colonial nature of capitalism in South Africa? How did the first deputy general secretary of the Party come to acquire this insensitivity to racism and colonialism? What are we to read in this miraculous conversion?
That being said, the modern-day refusal by the SACP leadership to concretely characterize the nature of monopoly capitalism in South Africa lays the basis for the SACP of Blade Nzimande and Cronin to quietly abandon the most incisive Marxist-Leninist concept to describe South African society: Colonialism of a Special Type. For, how can the SACP sustain the concept of Colonialism of a Special Type if monopoly capital is now colourless? On the other hand, ignoring for the moment its divisive nature, the Political Report to 13th Congress of the SACP correctly says:
“In consolidating and deepening of the national democratic revolution it is absolutely essential that we anchor our struggle around tackling the triple challenge of unemployment, together with racialised and gendered poverty and inequality in our country.
These three are deeply interrelated and capture the structural and systemic nature of our challenge. The underlying cause is colonialism of a special type and the continued reproduction of some of its features despite many advances made. At the heart of the triple challenges are the persisting class, gender and racial inequalities underlying South African society, which needs to be tackled in their totality and interrelatedness.”
This theoretical inconsistency of the SACP leadership is neither surprising nor unexpected! Since being embedded in the state the SACP is creating an “identity of opposites” with white monopoly capital, welcoming all the policies of the state and denying the persistence of the neoliberal agenda.
As NUMSA we have been consistent to say the underlying problem that creates crises in South Africa is colonialism of a special type perpetrated by white monopoly capital. In our statement of 3 December 2013, we stated the following: “It is precisely because NUMSA is a Marxist-Leninist inspired red industrial trade union, and because it has come to regard, over the years, the SACP as a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary formation, and because NUMSA holds in extreme high regard the historic contributions of the SACP to the struggle against apartheid in this country, which no one can erase, that NUMSA has unashamedly freely utilised and benefited from the revolutionary historic teachings of the SACP on the South African socio-economic formation.
On the South African socio-economic formation, NUMSA has formally benefited from the incisive and brilliant SACP characterisation of the South African capitalist formation when it said, in its Programme called “Path to Power”, adopted at its 7th Congress, in 1989:
The South African capitalist state did not emerge as a result of an internal popular anti-feudal revolution. It was imposed from above and from without.
From its birth through to the present, South African capitalism has depended heavily on the imperialist centres. Capital from Europe financed the opening of the mines.
It was the colonial state that provided the resources to build the basic infrastructure – railways, roads, harbours, posts and telegraphs.
It was an imperial army of occupation that created the conditions for political unification. And it was within a colonial setting that the emerging South African capitalist class entrenched and extended the racially exclusive system to increase its opportunities for profit.
The racial division of labour, the battery of racist laws and political exclusiveness guaranteed this. From these origins a pattern of domination, which arose in the period of external colonialism, was carried over into the newly-formed Union of South Africa. From its origins to the present, this form of domination has been maintained under changing conditions and by varying mechanisms.
In all essential respects, however, the colonial status of the black majority has remained in place. Therefore we characterise our society as colonialism of a special type.’
We are not aware of any formal, rigorous theoretical revision of this position, from the SACP.””
In fact, including in the SACP Central Committee Statement of the 1st of December 2013 itself, the SACP acknowledges that even post 1994, what it now strangely calls “monopoly capital” (no more reference to white monopoly capital) has strengthened its hold on South Africa, and internationalized”.
We therefore decried and expressed heavy disappointed at the rightward ideological drift of the Party, in its jettisoning of Colonialism of a Special Type. Although we knew that the SACP had become conservative, we never imagined that this could have gone as far as the level of even distorting the reality of the South African colonial-capitalist situation.
We knew though that something big had gone wrong somewhere, especially when the first deputy general secretary of the SACP, Cronin, told SACTWU that he and his friends were persuaded by the very same “monopoly capital” to adopt neoliberalism and that they believed that white monopoly capital had a developmental agenda for South Africa in the 1990’s. In the full glare of clothing and textile workers, this admission initially shocked us as NUMSA, but then we began to understand and accept the depth of the ideological degeneration that has afflicted the SACP.
4. The SACP and the past 20 years
In assessing what has happened in South Africa over the past 20 years, the Augmented Central Committee of the SACP says:
“The broader context for this [anti-majoritarian regime change agenda] offensive is the persisting crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality. This interlinked social crisis persists, despite a major post-apartheid, redistributive effort (including 16 million South Africans on social grants, 7 million new household electricity connections, 3 million subsidised houses and over 400,000 solar panel heaters installed free on the roofs of poor homes.)”
As NUMSA we have criticized this sort of analysis as failing to apply Marxist-Leninist tools. In our 3 December 2013 statement, we decried the “SACP’s Shallow Assessment of the past 20 Years” and said:
“In its Statement, the SACP of Blade Nzimande says the following, about our 20 years of ‘democracy’:
“The CC agreed that enormous gains have been notched up over the past two decades, particularly in terms of significantly lifting the floor of poverty through, amongst other things, the roll-out of social grants to 16 million South Africans (compared to 2,4million in 1994). Notwithstanding these and many other important advances, the balance of class forces has shifted unfavourably for the working class and poor, with monopoly capital being the principal beneficiary of our hard-won democratic breakthrough.
Monopoly capital has used our democracy and the ending of apartheid-era sanctions not to invest in reconstruction and development within our country – but to disinvest. The equivalent of 20 to 25% of GDP has been disinvested out of SA since 1994, some of it illegal capital flight.
The draining of productive capital out of our country has been exacerbated by erroneous economic policies particularly in the decade after 1996 – including the dramatic relaxation of exchange controls and the permitting of dual listings of major, born-and-bred SA companies (Anglo, De Beers, SASOL, SAB, Old Mutual, etc.). The South African government now confronts these giants as if they were foreign investors that have to be wooed on their own terms. Compounding all of this is that the surplus that is being retained within SA, is overwhelmingly not being invested in productive sectors.”
We at NUMSA now know that all the above are perfect outcomes of the negotiated settlement in which the ANC/SACP traded the Freedom Charter for government jobs and BEE, while Cosatu was busy working on the Reconstruction and Development Programme, which was later unceremoniously dumped in favour of GEAR.
The SACP, surely, has the theoretical and ideological capacity, and revolutionary moral rectitude, to honestly confess that the foundations of the current ugly situation in South Africa were laid in the negotiations in which white monopoly capital and imperialism triumphed as together they facilitated the acquisition of “government” by the ANC in exchange for economic sovereignty?
We repeat: the 1994 negotiated settlement neither dismantled the power of South African white monopoly capital and imperialism, nor did it change the colonial status of the black majority in South Africa”.
We refuse to agree that the positions adopted by the ANC-led government were simply “erroneous”, that is not Marxist-Leninist analysis. Those economic policies were “neoliberal” policies that consciously served the interests of white monopoly capital. They were not erroneous, they were not mistaken, but they were a result of the defeat and outmaneuvering of the working class by white monopoly capital with the assistance of the leading cadre of the ANC-led alliance, as Cronin himself acknowledges that they were persuaded by white monopoly capital to adopt neoliberalism. In other words, these post 1996 policies can be perfectly and objectively explained only on the basis of class struggle.
Our Marxist-Leninist analysis and critique of the SACP that we made in our 3 December 2013 Statement and in our “Ideological Reflections” therefore still applies, notwithstanding any verbiage from the SACP.
5. The SACP and the state
The Augmented Central Committee of the SACP bitterly complains that there is inadequate action against corruption; it mentions a resolution which says:
“…those in our ranks facing criminal charges in the courts of law, should stand down from their party political and government positions. It is costing us publicly as a movement that we are not moving decisively in this regard. There are also widespread indications of money politics at play and even of business people having a direct hand into appointments into key positions within the state.
However, the SACP rejects the allegation that the “whole of the ANC”, or “the whole of the state” is corrupt. But unless corruption and corporate-capture are dealt with severely and decisively these problems risk becoming systemic and difficult to reverse”.
If the SACP was applying the Marxist-Leninist theory of the state, the fact that there is “money politics at play and even business people having a direct hand into appointment into key positions within the state”, would not have come as a surprise. It is standard practice and culture in bourgeois-democracies.
It is this sort of statements from the SACP that shows a failure to apply Marxist-Leninist tools of analysis. It is also this sort of amnesia that COSATU was trying to warn the SACP about in its Political Report to the 11th Congress. When COSATU quoted Lenin about the state, it was this sort of thing that COSATU was foreseeing. Let us quote Lenin in full:
“Another reason why the omnipotence of “wealth” is more certain in a democratic republic is that it does not depend on defects in the political machinery or on the faulty political shell of capitalism. A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell… it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-democratic republic can shake it. [Lenin, The State and Revolution].”
The SACP is still dreaming about dealing severely with “corporate-capture and corruption”, yet Leninism teaches us that the state is an instrument of class rule. In other words, the dominance of white monopoly capitalism means that the state is by definition already captured.
We would have expected that the brutal massacre of mine workers in Marikana should have at least, awoken the SACP to the reality that South Africa is a white monopoly capitalist state. It is very disheartening to see that, while Lenin has clearly spoken about the “omnipotence of wealth” being more certain in a democratic republic as far back as 1917, the SACP is panicking about the rise of “money politics” in 2014, as if this is a new phenomenon in bourgeois-democracies!
All these elementary theoretical errors show that the SACP has abandoned Marxism-Leninism.