6 November 2007

Pact Facts

The reconfiguring of the Alliance is the substantial question for Polokwane and beyond. It turns out that the position and the trajectory foreseen by COSATU is quite different from that envisaged by the working-class vanguard party, the SACP. Let’s recapitulate this part of the business in some detail.

The SACP wants a Reconfigured Alliance. COSATU wants an Alliance Pact. Reconfigured Alliance is not necessarily the same thing as Alliance Pact. For example, Reconfigured Alliance could mean, as the Party has said in a Congress Resolution, a separate list of candidates and a post-election coalition.

The SACP intends to have an SACP Policy Conference to discuss the reconfiguring of the Alliance, “within a year” from the date of the July 2007 12th SACP National Congress.

COSATU’s discussion document, on the other hand, says “If the intention is to finalise the Pact for these [2009] elections, it would, in effect, have to be completed by the end of 2008, just over a year away. If therefore, there is any hope of succeeding in this approach, the Alliance pact proposal would have to be our central political campaign between now and then; and highly intensive work, with all the necessary resources and expertise, would need to be deployed to make it a reality.”

COSATU is therefore in a hurry. COSATU’s timetable representing this process suggests a national mobilisation in 2008 and a new Congress of the People before the end of that year, to finalise the Pact.

The SACP sees various different “potential modalities” and “options”, and it mandates its commission (the Party and State Power Commission) to “study international experiences closely, and to analyse in detail and evaluate our local reality.” So the Party is quite open-minded at this stage. It could, presumably, be looking at Venezuela, India, Cuba and even China for contemporary comparisons, and at past and present examples from many other places.

But COSATU already goes into great detail as to what should be in the Pact prior to the election. COSATU’s conception is of a rigid and detailed Pact document, pre-emptively drafted by COSATU’s own intellectuals. This draft is supposed to be aggressively driven towards joint adoption by the three principal structures (ANC, SACP and COSATU) before the end of 2008, at a Congress of the People. (In addition, COSATU is intending, unilaterally, to convene a “left conference” some time during 2008).

COSATU does not seem to anticipate any loss of its own independence as a result of the Pact.

The SACP has always maintained its independence, and has never had a pact with the ANC as far as we know. It freely chose an alliance over any other arrangement. This Alliance (and any alliance for that matter) is a voluntary attachment of independent organisations.

Is a Pact, even if it is called an “Alliance Pact”, the same as a simple Alliance in this regard?

It is hard to see how it could be. It is hard to see how binding strictures will be imposed upon the ANC, and through it, on the Government, without COSATU (and presumably the SACP) becoming equally bound by the Pact, because a Pact, by its nature, is binding on both sides.

This is one problem of a Pact. If it is binding, it will have to bind all, and the independence of the members of the Alliance will be lost. And if a Pact is not going to be binding, then why have one?

The Communist University meets this evening at 17h00 in the SACP boardroom, 3rd floor, COSATU House, 1 Leyds Street, Braamfontein, to discuss “
Transformation, not a Balancing Act” (1997) by Blade Nzimande and Jeremy Cronin. The image above is from an on-line exhibition of new peace posters – see below for the link. Coming Events include tomorrow’s all-day colloquium at Wits, a lecture on Friday on the Russian Revolution, and a Red October rally on 25 November. Click on the link below.

Click on these links:

On-line New Peace Poster Exhibition (external link)

Coming Events


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