Is the South African Communist Party (SACP) truly a vanguard?
by Muhammad Khalid Sayed, ANCYL Western Cape Provincial Chair
As his battle with the South African Communist Party reached its climax and in the eye of the storm, President Thabo Mbeki at the ANC’s 52nd national conference had the boldness to quote Vladimir Lenin: “better fewer but better”.
He uttered these words as he faced the democratic tide against him at the Polokwane conference. Vintage Mbeki, he tried to corner the conference. If he was re-elected, well then so be it. Yet if he lost, it was because they were dealing with, as he said in his political report: “members who, among other things, will have very little familiarity with the history and traditions of the ANC, its policies, its value system and its organisational practices.” Both ways, he attempted to write history.
Cloaked in Shakespearean irony, Mbeki’s call was directed mainly to his Leninist-Marxist opponents in the form of the SACP and COSATU. While his former unionist Secretary-General, Kgalema Motlanthe was pushing a million membership in his organisational report, Mbeki showed no interest in allowing the liberation movement to become one that was essentially pro-socialist and mass-based. He wanted fewer because it was better to become elitist and thus push through policies that would secure capital.
Ironically, like the ANC a decade ago, the SACP finds itself today in the same conundrum. Historically, known as a ‘vanguard’, therefore fewer but better, the SACP today boasted, at its latest congress, a membership tally of a quarter million. The reality of course, as Mbeki tried to project in 2007 and which Lenin fully understood, was concentration on the increase in numbers meant the decrease in content and character. A vanguard, while open to all, is simply not a mass-based organisation.
Referring to his earlier work titled, How We Should Reorganise the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, Lenin cautions readers against thinking that the figures mentioned in that article were too small. Rather he suggests that the measures to be put in place must ensure that “really exemplary quality” is obtained. Ultimately, the establishment of the vanguard is in response to his old-time question: what is to be done?
The reality of course is that under the leadership of Dr Blade Nzimande a direct onslaught against the bourgeois intelligentsia, to which Marx and Engels were said to have belonged to, has taken place. Throughout the last two decades, there has been a deliberate purging of leading intellectuals within the Party and a move towards one that is mass-based. It is not necessary to name these intellectuals here suffice to say that anyone who has knowledge of the Party would be able to identify them.
This dearth in leadership in the SACP has led directly to a dearth in ideas. One such example of the lack of ideas is summed up in the following paragraph: “[The] intention was not to decide on whether the SACP should stand for elections or not (that decision is a foregone conclusion), this is not because of the number of people who attended, but because of the prevailing conditions that arise in,…, the current phase of the revolution. The decision to constitute a Commission to look into the pros and cons of standing for elections was not a cowing out of a ‘yes we will’ or ‘no we won’t’ response. This is based on the fact that the question was not whether we should, but was whether if we do, how will we do it, when will we do it and how will this affect the Alliance between the SACP with COSATU and the ANC…”
You would be forgiven if you thought this was a summary of the decision by the Party to investigate modalities of participation in elections taken at its last congress held in July. Sadly, this was a response by the SACP to a Business Day editorial in 2005 after the Party’s Special National Congress. Nearly twelve years on to the day, the SACP is stuck in the same place. Where is the vanguard?
In other words, for over a decade now the Party, which portrays itself as the vanguard of the workers, has been threatening to ‘go it alone’ as the Business Day editorial was titled. Since that Special National Congress, the Party has become emboldened to add to its membership, increase to an operating budget of R35 million with R2 million spent just on securing Party bosses alone.
The forty-one-member strong newly elected central committee of the Party boasts no less than five ministers in President Zuma’s cabinet, two provincial premiers, five deputy-ministers, three members of the executive councils, the deputy speaker of the national assembly, eight members of parliament mostly holding senior positions, two members of provincial legislatures, a deputy-mayor, and two senior bureaucrats.
They are all in their positions on an ANC ticket and stand the chance of losing these should the SACP go it alone. No wonder, unlike Solly Mapaila, Nzimande fought for the ‘relook at modalities’ again. He has been playing this card for the last decade in order to buy time at the trough.
However, it is the contention of many Party activists that it is through the support of the Party on the ground and their alliance with the ANC that Party leaders are deployed to these positions via the ANC. Should the Party therefore have instructed those whom it considers to be its deployees to have voted in favour of the no confidence vote against President Zuma, it is the contention that these Party members will have had to tow the Party line. The Party therefore literally wants its place at the trough and criticise those at it.
Therefore, it is safe to suggest that while there has been a purge of the intelligentsia from the vanguard, which was the Party as its former self, there has also been a push to ensure that certain leaders benefit from the patronage politics that has pounced on the Party. We see this for example in the deployment to university and TVET College councils where members of the Party are deployed and while these deployees have meant very little on these councils, as seen with #FeesMustFall, they continue to draw the benefits that accompany these posts.
This inability to lead university councils during the protests and what was subsequently articulated as the dysfunctionality of university governance is indicative of the poor performance by a communist minister who has done everything possible to prevent higher education from becoming a public good. Instead what we have seen under his watch is the continuous financialization of our universities, high fees to ensure an elite has access to education and the outsourcing of essential services on our campuses.
Even worse still, the over securitization of our universities and the securocratic responses to the protests point us to the adage that the state through its security apparatus will always protect the interests of the ruling class. Why were we surprised when the communist minister was calling police onto campuses, when only two years earlier he had condemned the workers at Marikana as murderers?
One is not sure how Lenin would respond to the purging of the intellectuals from the Party in the last two decades and the subsequent dearth in ideas that has prevailed. What is certain is that Karl Marx, together with Oliver Tambo and JB Marks will definitely raise an eyebrow at the South African Communist Party of today for they have committed a grave error: the commodification of the Tripartite Alliance.
I would like to submit an article.
ANC: What divides us?
Preceeding the polokwane conference, many foreign tendencies crept into the organisation. Many values and traditions were set aside in the quest to achieve a particular outcome.
The former president Thabo Mbeki asked a pertinent and prudent question in his political report:
“We must ask the question and discuss it frankly—if we are divided, what divides us?
“If we are divided, what should we do to address this challenge, given the naked truth that a divided ANC can never discharge its historic responsibilities to the masses of our people?
This question was never fully dealt with and a panacea never found hence we still dealing with remnants of the polokwane conference.
Comrades who fought the apartheid regime side by side in the trenches have become sworn enemies. They plot and scheme to destroy each other using tactics similar to that of apartheid regime, all in the name to position themselves at the feeding trough, giving rise to the notion: it’s our turn to eat.
There’s a adage that says; the most difficult master is the servant who became a master.
The energy and resources dedicated to over throw the apartheid regime are now dedicated to destroying each other, this at the expense of the masses.
The character of the ANC is that of a non racial and non sexist organisation. However, recently tribalism, racial and sexist undertones have crept into our political lexicon, vulgarising our political vocabulary.
Opposition parties are buoyed by the internal turmoil within the party because they know a strong and United ANC is unstoppable.
The trajectory of the recent electoral outcomes tells a very bleak picture, a mere 23 years into power.
The rise of EFF and DA is evidence of the continued discontent of the youth who feel excluded in mainstream economy. This is exacerbated by an ANCYL that has failed to execute it’s twin tasks. We are a generation that inflicts pain on itself, all at the altar of political expediency.
Subsequent political and organisational reports have spoken about the crisis facing the movement; gate keeping, bulk buying of membership, patronage, careerism, factionalism, slates, corruption, yet little has changed over the years, in fact the crisis has deepened.
One never thought that under a democratically elected government, students marching for free education would be incarcerated, shot and harassed by the police. One would have never thought communities protesting for quality services would be shot and killed like the case of andries tatane.
Marikana happened on our watch. Nkandla happened on our watch. Malamulele and Vuwani happened on our watch. Corruption is rampant both in public and private sectors. We’ve become the protest capital of the world.
The questions beckons: When and how did we get here?
At the Mafikeng conference, Mandela in his farewell address said: Here are the reins of the movement – protect and guard its precious legacy, defend its unity and integrity as committed disciples of change, pursue its popular objectives like true revolutionaries who seek only to serve the nation.
The ANC prides itself in the freedom charter and one it’s key pillars is: The people shall govern. OR Tambo speaks about the people power and it’s organs with the ANC commanding respect in this regard.
The Fees Must Fall movement used to sing a song that reverberated throughout the country and gave impetus to the struggle for Free Education:
Nkosi sikelela iAfrica
Maluphakanyis’ uphondo lwayo
Yizwa imithandazo yethu
Sibe moya munye
Noma sokunzima emhlabeni
Sihlukunyeza ka buhlungu
Nkosi siphe amandla wokunqoba
The need for a strong and United ANC and alliance is more pertinent now than ever, in order to advance the National Democratic Revolution to achieve the National Democratic Society that we aspire to fulfil as the ANC and alliance.
As OR Tambo noted; We need to move from revolutionary declarations to revolutionary practice.
Victoria De Beer
Member of ANCYL NEC
HONESTY BEFORE UNITY
In the midst of our internal disagreements, which mostly leads to divisions within the ANC, which then creates a media storm and confusions to the masses of our people. We must continue to send the messages of hope to the South African people who love, believe and vote for the ANC, and we must be honest with them and say to them: As the ANC, we know and are fully aware that, there is a lot that causes you dissatisfaction in the manner in which things are being said and done in the ANC. We know that, there are many things which are happening which impose on you a deep sense of shame and despair. We should make the people understand, and convince them that, everything that is going wrong in the ANC does not represent what is truly the ANC. Every ANC member must find it within themselves to be the frontline combatants of the movement. Our collective visions for our country’s economic prosperity, intensification of democracy, tolerance, peace and unity should be the mortar and bricks that builds the society we seek to achieve.
Liliesleaf Farm Branch, Ward 112
Joburg Region, GP
I will never change. ANC is my family, my life, my future
we were born to lead
I am a comrade who never stop running and fight for our nation
Right things will happen at the right time we never fail our country
( WE STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION)………..
I AM AN AFRICAN
My research under the study of MFMP
Let government Invest too much to the Healthy sector.
Training our youth under the Health and Safety.
We need more nurses and Law enforcement
SDBIP- Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan.
– it is a short term operational plan which details the programmes and financial
The provision of Subsidy to emerge farmers
(a) Through education
(b) Training more competent nurses who will come and work in the clinic.
Infrastructural development, to make sure that water is supplied to the community and clinics are built since they are using mobile clinics.
Town development, to make sure that they are necessary facilities that will cater for the youth and elderly people with disabilities.
-Having a clinic will help/assist in providing adequate equipment
• The quality of services will improve
• People will be able to get their medication without any problem.e.g those who are taking ARV’S; they will receive their medication in time.
• People will get employed.
– More job opportunities will be created.
• The level of poverty will be reduced because people will have access to some food that is produced in those farms.
• Let government own all empty land, and hire even Farmers to work under him.
• All empty land let it owned by the state by force.
more job opportunities will be created
• People with skills will do art work and sell it to the tourist and earn a living, and in that way poverty will be compacted.
more job opportunities will be created
• Our youth waste lot of energy in the violent and boycott
• Let the youth to be employed in the security sectors
• SANDF; Law enforcement and Police.
• All the Graduate from Grade 12 after completion exams.
• Youth must be taken to the Camps and get training for the safety
I’m worried. I’m worried not only about our beloved movement ANC but about what is happening in our beloved country as well. When I say ”about what is happening in our beloved country” , where do I start. in our country there seems to be so much if not everything going wrong, I’m well aware though that the concerns I’m about to raise may not mean that in other parts of the world they do not have these problems. As a south African ill speak about what I see happening around me. I watch the news every single day there is never a day I don’t watch the news unless of course I’m on the road ill make a point to tune in on the radio and listen to what is happening for the day. nothing pains me more than hearing about the abuse of young girls, to be specific, girls that are being raped. You later during the course of the day hear that an accused has been taken into custody, a few days later bail is granted and the suspect is back on the street. Even in suspects where you find that there was an eye witness, I get confused. it gets worst each day because these incidents never stop. its just one after the other. the question I ask myself, can the government not intervene and do something to change the way the justice system looks at the grounds of granting bail. Crime in our country is escalating each and every single day.
Secondly I am worried, worried about what is happening in our beloved movement the ANC. We are heading to the national elections and I ask myself one thing, cant our leaders for once put their differences aside and consider what is best for this movement and the people of this country especially in KZN. The behaviour of some of these comrades leaves a lot to be desired, it gives the impression that indeed to some if not many all the factionalism is created deliberately. I say this because if they had the best interest of the party in their hearts and minds they would have already sat down and found an amicable solution but because its about being in power and capitalising on their personal gain none of them want to sit down and say ”what do we do for our people, the many jobless, homeless, sick and poor people. Whilst on the journey towards the elections we are promised change and everything else that gives us hope but do these leaders realise that whilst they are taking one another and the organisation to court their promises are not kept, where will the time to keep their promises come from because they are preparing court battles and not making sure services are delivered.
Last but not least as we prepare for the elections can it be in the interest of each and every leader of the ANC that the people who are chosen to represent the organisation are chosen carefully, Please choose people that are well informed, people that are passionate about change and want to make change in our communities. Leaders are born not made, stop choosing people in our communities that couldn’t even help out their own neighbours, stop choosing people that fail to make change in the streets they live in remember ”CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME” imagine someone who cant share with their neighbour bread and sugar. Will that person be able to ever give back even when they are in power? its highly unlikely. Its these kinds of leaders that become more arrogant when they are in power and never make people a priority. When choosing leaders go back to the communities they come from and check if they are worthy of being leaders. We need drastic change. Once these leaders are chosen they get inaccessible and never take the time to engage with the ordinary citizen, there is so much you could learn from hearing us the ordinary citizens.
I hope and pray that Unity in our ANC does indeed prevail…….Amandlaaaaaa
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