The South African Communist Party has just held its 12th National Conference in Port Elisabeth.
Below are some extracts from the Party’s Draft Political Program, with some comment from me.
Since the democratic breakthrough of 1994 the SACP has a been a “party of governance” – but not a governing party as such. Tens of thousands of South African communists have taken up the challenges of governance, as cabinet ministers, members of legislatures, provincial executives, mayors and councillors, as officials and workers throughout the public service, including the armed forces and in the safety and security institutions. The SACP expects all of its members to conduct themselves as exemplary communists in these many deployments in the state apparatus, whether as ministers, senior civil servants or public sector workers.
In the first three rounds of national democratic elections in South Africa (in 1994, 1999 and 2004), and in local government elections, the SACP chose to campaign on the basis of single ANC electoral lists. The SACP was always active in seeking to shape the ANC election manifestos, and the SACP always endeavoured to assert an independent profile in the course of these electoral campaigns. However, priority was given to securing overwhelming ANC election victories.
In the course of these elections, thousands of SACP members, endorsed by ANC-led branch-up nominations processes, have been elected into the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces, provincial legislatures and municipal councils. Again, the SACP expects all of its members who are ANC public representatives to be exemplary communists, respecting the integrity, unity and discipline of our leading alliance partner, the ANC, without losing their own communist identity, principles and morality.
The extent to which these objectives are working satisfactorily in practice needs to be subject to ongoing SACP assessment and review. The modalities of the SACP’s participation in elections are not a matter of timeless principle. As an independent political party, the SACP has every right to contest elections in its own right – should it so choose. Whether the Party does this and how it does it are entirely subject to conjunctural realities and indeed to engagement with our strategic allies. There are, however, three fundamental principles that will continue to guide us in this matter:
The SACP is not, and will never become, a narrowly electoralist formation;
Our approach to elections will be guided in this phase of the struggle by our overall strategic commitment to advancing, deepening and defending the national democratic revolution – the South African road to socialism; and
Our strategic objective in regard to state power is to secure not party political but working class hegemony over the state.
New Zeal This makes it pretty clear that the SACP is aiming for the radical transformation of South Africa. Guided by Marxism-Leninism, the SACP has a socialist South Africa in its sights.
It also makes it very clear that the SACP’s 50,000 plus members (membership has doubled since the last conference) treat the ANC has nothing more than a vehicle for the SACP.
The SACP dominates the ANC at every level and now controls the armed forces, the security services, education etc.
A socialism of the 21st century will need to think and act differently. Already the Cuban revolution, faced with the sudden crisis of the collapse of the Soviet bloc and with the abrupt loss of the majority of its oil supplies in the context of an ongoing US economic blockade, has pioneered a wide range of measures that focus on shortening logistics lines, moving to small farming plots, using organic fertilisers and pesticides, and combining the most modern scientific and technological interventions with non-motorised transport, like bicycles and even ox-drawn ploughs.
These should not be seen only as emergency measures in a particular situation. Nor should they be seen as a step back into the past, they are, in many respects, a step forward into the only sustainable future. A socialism of the 21st century will place a premium on ensuring food security for its people, on sustainable livelihoods, sustainable households and communities and the sustainable use of natural resources.
New Zeal Here’s the SACP making a virtue of necessity. The SACP knows it cannot bring prosperity, therefore it idolises Cuban style peasant socialism.
The SACP’s own campaigns, especially the land and agrarian transformation campaign, provide a key platform to achieve our key strategic objectives in the transformation of our countryside, including the following key goals:
The need for an overarching rural development strategy to bridge the divide between the ‘white’ countryside and the former Bantustans, grounded in accelerating land and agrarian transformation
The basis of such an industrial strategy for the countryside should be accelerated access to productive land for household based subsistence in both, and cutting across, the dualistic rural economic enclaves.
Crucial in all this is the mobilisation of the social motive forces for transformation, principally farm-workers, the poor and agricultural co-operatives and other forms of small-scale farming. On our side we will ensure that we mobilise our communities – building people’s land committees to drive land and agrarian transformation, Driving the implementation of the resolutions of the Land Summit.
New Zeal Translation, Zimbabwe style land confiscation.