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Weekly Worker 443 (1/8/02) - SACP Rebellion

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    Weekly Worker 443 - Towards a Socialist Alliance Party! In this week s Weekly Worker, paper of the Communist Party of Great Britain; SACP Rebellion Held last
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 1, 2002
      Weekly Worker 443 - Towards a Socialist Alliance

      In this week's Weekly Worker, paper of the Communist
      Party of Great Britain;

      SACP Rebellion

      Held last week in Rustenburg, the 11th Congress of the
      South African Communist Party saw the leadership
      desperately trying to hold the fort against a
      rebellion from the rank and file. Ordinary members are
      up in arms against continued SACP backing for the
      African National Congress government�s Thatcherite
      programme of privatisation and cuts.

      Two leading SACP members of the ANC government were
      turfed off the party�s central committee and replaced
      with comrades from the trade union left, while
      president Thabo Mbeki wisely decided to stay away
      rather than deliver the fraternal address on behalf of
      the ANC. Mbeki claimed he had to attend a cabinet
      meeting, although there were SACP cabinet ministers in
      the hall at the time he was due to address congress. A
      �presidency source� was quoted as saying that Mbeki
      was not willing to �risk his political reputation and
      be ridiculed and booed� (Johannesburg Star July 24).

      His fears were not without foundation, for his
      replacement, defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota, had the
      greatest of difficulty in making himself heard. A
      large section of delegates sang: �Makuliwe, uMbeki
      akafuni sithethathane� - �Mbeki won�t talk - we will
      fight.� It is traditional for speeches at party
      gatherings to be interrupted by revolutionary songs,
      which are sometimes adapted to fit the occasion. Thus,
      last week, one popular refrain called for some leading
      party members to be �lashed� and others to be kicked

      General secretary Blade Nzimande, representing the
      conciliating centre of the party, claimed there was
      �no ideological gap� between what was contained in
      official policy documents before congress and what was
      heard on the floor. Nzimande said that media reports
      were detracting from the unity of the congress, and
      appealed to delegates not to act in a manner that
      confirmed such reports.

      However, SACP disunity is now so ingrained it can no
      longer be concealed. It arises from the searing
      contradiction that the party itself has become - on
      the one hand, its six government ministers are among
      the most loyal and reliable neoliberal practitioners;
      on the other, the party dominates the Congress of
      South African Trade Unions - which called a general
      strike against the government�s accelerated
      privatisation programme for October 1-2 just two days
      before congress began.

      The party left concentrated its fire on three of the
      six ministers - although two others are also in the
      forefront of the government�s latest anti-working
      class drive. The prime target was Geraldine
      Fraser-Moleketi, who, as public services minister, is
      charged with holding down the wages of government
      employees and ensuring that strikes led by her Cosatu
      �comrades� to defend the conditions of public sector
      workers are defeated. Fraser-Moleketi - aware that a
      humiliating defeat was staring her in the face - did
      not seek re-election to the SACP central committee.
      She apologised for her absence from congress, which,
      she explained, was not intended as a snub - her
      presence was, after all, required in New York for an
      important meeting of the Committee of Experts on
      Public Administration.

      Two of her fellow government �experts� did not have
      such foresight. Public enterprises minister Jeff
      Radebe - who in March announced that the
      administration�s programme of privatisation, for which
      he is responsible, would be speeded up - was voted off
      the central committee. Essop Pahad, Thabo Mbeki�s
      �enforcer�, who works in the president�s office,
      suffered the same fate.

      But trade and industry minister Alec Erwin - an
      obvious candidate for expulsion, let alone demotion -
      along with water and forestry affairs minister Ronnie
      Kasrils - was re-elected. Kasrils just could not
      understand what the fuss was about: �If you are a
      communist and become a member of parliament under the
      ANC and you become a minister appointed by the
      president, you cannot expect that the MP or the
      minister is simply going to articulate party policy.�
      No, not your sort of �communist�, comrade.

      The sixth SACP minister in the ANC-led government is
      no less a figure than Charles Nqakula, the party
      chair. Nqakula, as safety and security minister, is in
      charge of crime prevention and policing. Last month he
      led the chorus of condemnation - echoed by other ANC
      spokespersons and opposition Democratic Alliance and
      New National Party politicians - directed at the
      militant tactics of members of the South African
      Municipal Workers Union, who were on strike for
      increased wages: �The government will not tolerate any
      action - such as the destruction of property, the
      trashing of streets and the intimidation of others by
      striking workers - that tramples on the rights of
      citizens.� Nqakula certainly knows which side of the
      class divide he is on: that day, a Samwu striker was
      shot in the stomach by an �intimidated� scab in Cape

      In the run-up to congress Nqakula had been giving out
      contradictory signals as to whether he would be
      seeking re-election. National Union of Mineworkers
      general secretary Gwede Mantashe was nominated as a
      replacement chair, but she was persuaded to withdraw
      when Nqakula decided he would stand after all. In the
      end he was unopposed. Comrade Mantashe was elected to
      the central committee with 767 votes out of 832, while
      Cosatu president Willie Madisha, a consistent and
      outspoken left critic of the government, topped the
      poll with 790 votes.

      Before congress Blade Nzimande had expressed support
      for Nqakula as a �popular choice for national
      chairman�, although he had been noticeably more
      reticent about Radebe and Pahad. He denied there was a
      mood in the party to punish members of the government.
      That would be �meaningless�, he said, since more than
      80% of SACP elected officers were also part of the
      government machine at one level or another - in
      parliament or on provincial or local councils.

      This statistic says a lot about the post-apartheid
      SACP. Insisting that the main task for communists is
      to consolidate the �national democratic revolution�
      (NDR) which replaced apartheid, the SACP tops have
      openly supported class collaboration, whilst couching
      this practice in the language of revolutionary

      This was admitted in the party quarterly African
      Communist: �In many respects the last five years
      within SA have been marked by a strategic convergence
      between all forces committed to some kind of
      post-apartheid change in our country (ranging from the
      US state department, big capital inside SA, through to
      the liberation movement). This strategic convergence
      has been useful (indeed crucial), in that it has given
      us breathing space to consolidate the victory over
      apartheid, and to isolate the most reactionary forces
      completely opposed to even limited democratisation and
      deracialisation� (2nd quarter, 1999).

      In this way the SACP leadership justifies its
      continued participation, along with Cosatu, not only
      in the ANC-led tripartite alliance, but in Mbeki�s
      Thatcherite administration. The SACP may occasionally
      bleat its opposition to the effective abandonment of
      the social democratic �reconstruction and development
      programme� (1994), meekly protest at the ANC�s attacks
      on workers and wring its hands at soaring food prices
      and the continuing rise in unemployment (last week
      Mbeki attempted to blame the unemployed themselves,
      who, he said, do not have �the skills the economy
      needs�). But the SACP remains part of the
      administration which oversees this state of affairs -
      all in the name of �advancing, deepening and
      strengthening the NDR�.

      Not surprisingly, ANC leaders, as former comrades in
      the liberation struggle, have learnt to employ
      SACP-style jargon. Last year the ANC national
      executive issued a briefing paper which accused
      unnamed communist and union leaders who opposed their
      neoliberal policies of a �counterrevolutionary plot�.

      In recent weeks there has been some controversy over
      an interview given by SACP deputy general secretary
      Jeremy Cronin, who represents the party�s right wing.
      Cronin complained about loyal ANC supporters like
      himself being sidelined by the �bureaucratisation of
      the struggle�, leading to the establishment of a
      Zimbabwe-like elite.

      ANC head of presidency Smuts Ngonyama reportedly told
      a media briefing that Cronin was �being unfaithful and
      spreading deliberate lies�, to which the SACP
      responded: �This unfortunate statement plays directly
      into the hands of capitalist media and other
      counterrevolutionary forces in our country, which are
      unhappy that the SACP has grown and consolidated since
      its 10th Congress.�

      In fact such forces are far from �unhappy� with the
      SACP�s role. True, the bourgeoisie and international
      capital would like to wish away the fighting tradition
      of the South African working class and its continued
      attachment to a party which calls itself communist,
      but the SACP�s role in dampening the masses�
      revolutionary combativity should not be
      underestimated. If anything, the party enjoys the
      heartfelt, if unspoken, gratitude of such forces.

      That is why talk of a counter-purge of the SACP at the
      ANC congress in December is almost certainly
      misplaced. As The Guardian points out, �Mr Mbeki does
      not want to see the alliance fall apart, because that
      would probably lead to the formation of a rival party
      to the left of the ANC, where it is most vulnerable�
      (July 25). Although after Lekota�s address to the SACP
      congress the rank and file took up another song daring
      the ANC to retaliate by getting rid of SACP members
      from leading positions in its own organisation, Mbeki
      is unlikely to accept their challenge.

      However, the 11th Congress demonstrated once again
      that the current situation is untenable for the SACP
      leadership. Not even the most naive member now
      believes that there is the remotest possibility of an
      apartheid comeback - the excuse implicit in the
      leadership�s NDR logic for holding back in the fight
      for workers� interests.

      Sooner or later Nzimande will try and lead a carefully
      managed break from the ANC-led alliance or risk a
      damaging split outside his control. That would open up
      the possibility of an independent working class
      organisation with a revolutionary leadership - a
      nightmare for the present incumbents. A break led by
      Nzimande would seek to minimise the inevitable
      defections, especially at the top, and establish a
      more stable reformist party to the ANC�s left.

      It goes without saying that revolutionaries should aim
      to thwart the achievement of such an outcome. An SACP
      forced to make the break by its left wing would be a
      very different organisation from one where the current
      leadership has effected an orderly departure.

      The SACP left, while more visible, remains largely
      unorganised and inarticulate. Nostalgia for the common
      liberation fight under the ANC umbrella leads many to
      accept the party�s official attachment to a continuing
      and unbreakable alliance - the rebellion consciously
      limited itself to booting out the three SACP ministers
      responsible for implementing the most open
      anti-working class policies. Yet splitting the SACP
      first and foremost by expelling the right and
      right-centrist leadership must be the strategic aim of
      all genuine communists - this is the key that can open
      the way to winning over the mass of the working class
      to the leadership of a revolutionary party.

      It is astonishing then, in this period of crisis for
      the SACP, that the Socialist Workers Party�s sister
      organisation, Keep Left, after officially �disbanding�
      in 1999 in order to enter the SACP, turned on its
      heels and walked out after less than three years. Just
      as there was no open theorisation of this entryism, so
      there has been no public explanation, as far as I am
      aware, of the reasons behind this latest about-turn.

      Our engagement with mass organisations must be based
      on the strategic need of our class as a whole, not on
      recruiting to one�s own sect.

      Peter Manson

      Also in this issue;

      'Foot Challenge to New Labour' - Anne Mc Shane reports
      on campaigning journalist Paul Foot's electoral
      challenge in Hackney.

      'Mobilise, Criticise' - Marcus Strom reports on London
      Socialist Alliance's 'Anti-capitalism and the struggle
      for socialism' public meeting.

      'Simplistic Anti-Imperialism and Two States' - Ray
      Gaston attended the Leeds Socialist Alliance debate on

      'Injury to One is Injury to All' - Blair has mounted a
      witch-hunt against those involved in anti-racist
      'riots' last year. Ian Donovan calls for their

      'Scottish Mists and Polish Echoes' - Jack Conrad
      dissects the nationalist socialism of the Scottish
      Socialist Party.

      'Our Own Bin Ladens' - While Al Qa�eda and Hamas have
      featured prominently in the western media, not much is
      written about western fundamentalists. Liz Hoskings
      seeks to redress the balance.

      'What Next for the Conservatives?' - Maurice Bernal
      casts an eye over recent David Davis furore in the
      Tory Party.

      'Centralism and the SA' - The Socialist Alliance
      discussion e-list has been debating democtratic
      centralism. Mark Fischer accusing the protagonists of
      semi-anarchist distrust.

      'Whose Double Standards?' - The Alliance for Workers�
      Liberty equates the refusal to recognise the Israeli
      nation�s right to exist with anti-semitism. Ian
      Donovan argues that this plays into the hands of the
      economistic left.

      'Serwotka Victory' - Socialist Alliance supporter
      Serwotka wins his court case against Reamsbottom.
      Peter Manson reports.

      'Crow Calls for Cross-Union Solidarity' -
      Divisions between Aslef and the RMT are weakening
      railworkers. Michael Farmer supports Bob Crow's call
      for unity.

      And Letters (AWL, Gaza Massacre, Gibraltar, Tom Paine,
      Historical Materialism), Call for SA Paper, Fighting
      Fund, Communist University, and Action.

      This edition can be read at
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      phone 020 8965 0659, or write to CPGB, BCM Box 928,
      London, WC1N 3XX, quoting 'e-ad'.

      The Communist Party of Great Britain is a supporting
      organisation of the Socialist Alliances in England and
      Wales and the Scottish Socialist Party.
      Please visit
      http://www.welshsocialistalliance.org.uk and

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    • Edward TJ Brown
      I find Communism and Socialism to be filled with the same basic problems as Libertarinaism. I do not enjoy getting e-mails promoting Communist and Socialist
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 1, 2002
        I find Communism and Socialism to be filled with the
        same basic problems as Libertarinaism.

        I do not enjoy getting e-mails promoting Communist and
        Socialist political parties and certainly do not feel
        that these groups will ever get any power in America.

        Edward TJ Brown


        ICQ: 49283185

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