1 December 2007

Preparation for the Branch

The SACP Johannesburg Central Branch has asked the Communist University’s “Vice-Chancellor” to open a discussion on the 52nd ANC National Conference that will be starting in Polokwane, Limpopo, in a little more than two weeks’ time (from the 16th to the 20th December, 2008). The branch is being asked to discuss this “from a Communist perspective”. At the same time, this is our last formal branch general meeting of the year, so it need not be too heavy.

So what I am going to do here is to name, and wherever possible to link, the texts that I would refer to if we had all day to discuss, and even more time to read. That will open the door for anyone who wants to keep on studying this matter during the next two months. Then, tomorrow, I will briefly try to connect these authorities together in a way that offers a communist perspective on the present conjuncture. In other words, I will try to concretise and problematise our current situation on the evidence of the documents given here. Of which there could be others but one is trying to be brief.

I would kick off with SACP Deputy GS Cde Jeremy Cronin’s article from Friday’s issue of the Mail & Guardian, especially where he says: “… this is a rejection of a particular leadership style, but it’s important to realise that the leadership style is not primarily a matter of personalities. It is intimately linked to a policy strategy that consolidated itself around 1996 as the dominant approach in government. The assumption was that change would be delivered through a close working relationship between big capital and the new governing elite. This has been at the heart of the demobilisation of the ANC, the marginalisation of allies and even of Parliament and Nedlac.” I would aim to come back to that point.

Then I would begin a revision of the background by taking the SACP’s “State Power” Resolution of our 12th Congress in July 2007, as a summary of a long process, in which our branch has taken part. The resolution also sketches the Party’s idea of the steps to be taken over the next year or two, for contrast with COSATU’s proposals for the same period. They are not the same.

Then I would refer to the principal documents of COSATU’s Central Committee of September 2007. In the case of the “Framework for an alliance governance and elections pact” I would outline briefly what it amounts to as a programme. Then I would touch on the "NDR AND Socialism Discussion Document", mainly to demonstrate the scope and nature of COSATU’s agenda at present.

Then I would take some extracts. First, the passage on the Alliance Pact taken from COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi’s speech to the SADTU NGC on 7 November 2007. Then I would go to the items on the 52nd ANC Conference, COSATU’s proposed Alliance Pact, and COSATU’s projected Conference of the Left, scheduled for September, 2008, which including a proposed “Commission on Socialism”. These latter extracts are from the COSATU CEC, published on 22 November 2007. Then to the “Annexure 2” to the CEC document called “Comparison of ANC resolutions with COSATU positions”.

Then I would refer to the speech of NUMSA GS Silumko Nondwangu of 14th November, in a Harold Wolpe seminar given in Port Elizabeth on 14 November 2007, on the topic: “Can Trade Unions lead the Struggle for Socialism?”, and the subsequent e-mail debate on this speech of Cde Silumko’s that took place on the
YCLSA Discussion Forum.

Then, taking the same question as put to and answered by Cde Silumko, which is the old question of workerism versus the Party, we would go to Cde Blade Nzimande’s “Red Alert” from Umsebenzi Online of 7 November 2007, on “Dual Power, the living legacy of the Great October Revolution”, and from there to polemic of Rosa Luxemburg versus V I Lenin, to make a full rehearsal of the question of the relation between the working class vanguard Party and the mass organisations of the working class, especially the Trade Unions. These texts have been put down for, and linked to, the CU’s 2008 programme.

To sum up, I will tomorrow put forward the opinion that the question at present, from a communist perspective, is not about the formalisation of a relationship between organisations, but of the organic relationships between class and class, and between the vanguard Party and the working class. The Party cannot tail the Trade Unions. A pact between trade unionists and nationalists that does not consult the Party is most likely going to be a reformist pact, that will not deal with the fundamental problem referred to by Cde Jeremy, as quoted above. The Party does not wait to be asked. It must lead, and it will.

This dialogue does not have to be concluded at the branch. It can continue in other places, including the YCL’s e-mail Discussion Forum. Documents will be made available at that web site. E-mail addresses will be collected at the branch tomorrow for addition to the forum.

Click on these links:

SACP 12th Congress resolution on State Power, July 2007

Framework for an alliance governance and elections pact, COSATU CC, September 2007

NDR AND Socialism Discussion Document for COSATU CC, September 2007

COSATU extracts – Vavi to SADTU, & CEC re Alliance Pact, Conference of Left, November 2007

Comparison of ANC resolutions with COSATU positions, CEC Annexure 2, November 2007

Can Trade Unions lead the Struggle for Socialism?, Silumko Nondwangu, November 2007

Dual Power, the living legacy of the Great October Revolution, Blade Nzimande, November 2007

Luxemburg vs Lenin, polemic on Party and class, Communist University 2008 programme


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