Cde Zizamele Cebekhulu, President of Popcru; Cde Nathi Theledi, General Secretary; the entire NOB's collective; all members of the Central Executive Committee; former leaders of Popcru; the leadership of alliance partners present here today and in absentia; guests from international and local organisations; equally important, dear delegates,
Thank you for extending an invitation to the SACP to address your Central Executive Committee (CEC). I am privileged on behalf of the approximately 300, 000 members of the SACP to share with you their collective thoughts in relation to our revolution - the national democratic revolution. Firstly, allow me to convey our Party's militant and radical greetings to all the delegates present here today.
Your CEC takes places at the crucial moment in history and in relation to conjectural issues facing working class struggles globally.
Your CEC also accords an opportunity to celebrate the SACP House's first anniversary. At our 14th Party Congress our members expressed their deepest gratitude to Popcru, and conferred the union a special award. Cde President Zizamele Cebekhulu had the privilege of accepting the award on your behalf.
The theme of this CEC is very crucial. We need to do more work to strengthen the capacity to defend, advance and deepen our revolution.
The Great October Socialist Revolution
This year, and this month to be specific, marks the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. This is a moment of great pride and celebration, but it is also a moment of reflection, constructive criticism and self-criticism. It is a moment about the future we wish to forge for humanity in general and for the South African people and working class in particular.
The systemic crisis of capitalism continues to wreck havoc globally. The aggregate forecast of capitalist growth remains stagnant. Job security worldwide is under threat. Typical trades and professions are disappearing, affecting lifelong careers. Workers are facing a huge challenge. The challenge is not from cutting edge production technologies. It is from the manner in which the capitalist class employs the new production technologies, including robotics, artificial intelligence and chemical processes. Capitalist are not interested in lessening workers' toil. Nor are they interested in fairly treating workers and their labour, whether concrete or abstract as materialised in production technology itself and in the products and services, or, in one word the commodities that workers produce. What capitalists want, independently of their race, sex and nationality, is profit and private capital accumulation.
Let us posit the very same question from the point of view of the public sector, with a focus on the sectors that Popcru organises. Think about a fully automated correctional centre, a fully robotised correctional facility that is 24 hours under the radar of cyber control. Think about what that would mean to the union and its members. Think about that in the context of the prevailing organisation of the state around privatisation and outsourcing, or tenderisation - in one word. Think about the change in the context where the state is embedded in private personal, corporate or family interests, rather than in the people as a whole, particularly the class of workers.
Think about the deteriorating political and economic environment in our country and the lack or absence of attention suffered by strategic developmental questions facing our revolution. Think about the consequences of the slippage. Think about it not just in the short-term but in the medium- to long-term. Think about how long it would take to rollback both the rot and its consequences and advance South Africa to a prosperous destination - a destination where prosperity is not monopolised by capitalists as their so-called private property, or by the parasitic and political elite, but is enjoyed by society as a whole as its social, that is collective, product.
We will try in this intervention to shed some light into what we believe are the bases of some of the challenges our movement, revolution and country are facing.
Defeat the entire system of corporate rule and state capture!
Corporate state capture is one of, and involves, the highest forms of corruption! We must fight these two dangers of capitalist greed. We must bring them to an end if we are to defend and deepen our democracy, our democratic national sovereignty. Corporate state capture and the governance decay are destroying our country, comrades:
Just look at SAA. It is bankrupt. It is in crisis.
Look at the SABC. It is insolvent. It is bankrupt. It is in crisis. Some of the individuals who plunged the SABC into governance decay dropped President Jacob Zuma's name left, right and centre. He never distanced himself from them. In addition, when the SABC's interim board mandate expired he opened a governance vacuum. He did not appoint a permanent board. He dilly-dallied until he was taken to court. He appointed the board only after he failed to punctually submit his defence in court. The President's lack of appreciation for proper and accountable structures has plunged the newly appointed SABC board in a crisis affecting workers' wage increases immediately after he belatedly and involuntarily appointed the board.
What is more worrying about the situation that led to the SABC to fall into crisis, is that the public broadcaster has been used to make a private monopoly, MultiChoice, a subsidiary of Naspers, the mouthpiece of the Broederbond, the ideological vanguard of apartheid, to thrive. There are many other parasites that benefitted from the destruction of the SABC as is the case with all other public enterprises. Everywhere state owned enterprises have been pushed into governance decay and crisis - it is because of looting by private, capitalist and personal interests involving big and small, Black and White, national and foreign companies always in collusion with the bureaucratic and political elite.
Just take a moment and look at Prasa. It was plunged into crisis. It does not have a board.
The malady of corporate state capture and corruption has worsened exponentially under the incumbency of His Excellency, President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and his friends, the Gupta family.
Look at PetroSA. It was forced into crisis.
Think about this. Our strategic energy reserves have been looted from the Central Energy Fund (CEC). They were sold under mysterious circumstances at substantial discount.
Just look at Eskom, another energy entity. It has been plunged into crisis. Unexplained payments were made under mysterious circumstances to private firms.
Think about this. SARS, our formerly trusted receiver of revenue, has been forced into acts of pervasion and compelled into crisis. This crisis involves collaboration with a foreign monopoly auditing company, the Netherlands headquartered KPMG. KPMG is one of the only four auditing oligopolies dominant in South Africa's financial affairs. The other three oligopolies are also foreign controlled, and are all headquartered in the UK, namely Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte&Touche. The reason why we highlight where these private oligopolies making up an auditing sector monopoly in South Africa are headquartered is because this is an important indicator of who really controls not only this significant sector but also holds an enormous stake in the wider economy of our country.
In other words corporate state capture is not merely some domestic affair involving only local parasites and their networks of patronage and factionalism. It is those who control the economy who set the parameters for the exercise of state power and hold the ultimate decisive sway in relation to that power. This is where state capture originates. This is why tenderisation of the mandate of the state and its functions is the hotbed of the rot.
Just think about Transnet. It was pushed into crisis.
Look at the crisis facing Denel and the looting manoeuvres it was plunged into.
Think about your pensions and the pensions of the rest of public servants. The Public Investment Corporation, PIC, which handles approximately R2-trillion of state employees' pension funds, has recently faced unravelling manoeuvres to loot the money.
There are many examples of corruption and corporate state capture at national and sub-national levels - in provinces, district and local municipalities.
Just think about the so-called Esidimeni, in which crisis 141 people died and someone still received payments and grants on some of their behalf after their deaths. The source of this crisis was not to move the patient from one profit-driven service provider, Life Esidimeni to another or to NGOs, licensed or unlicensed - it was the outsourcing, in the first instance, of the public healthcare mandate of the state. The original source of the crisis was the tenderisation of the healthcare functions of the state, resulting in the cut and paste of the patients from one service provider to another ultimately cutting off of their lives. This must be investigated radically, that is, to the root cause.
Let us now look at the criminal justice system.
Think about this. Important criminal investigation and prosecutorial authorities appear to be turning a blind eye to the rot of state capture, or are caught up busy in factional palace politics.
It must be regarded a national embarrassment for people who commit wrongdoing in South Africa to be held accountable far away in Europe, such as Bell Pottinger and McKenzie, a predatory company involved with another by the name of Trillian and others in the crisis that is now facing Eskom.
There are people who were implicated in the Gupta email leaks. By all intents and purposes, everything points to a top level "inside job" to obstruct investigation and prosecution. Only an independent - and we emphasise independent - judicial commission of inquiry can help unearth the extent of state capture in our country. The commission, first called for by the SACP, must be appointed as soon as by yesterday with the report of the former Public Protector entitled "State of Capture" as the basis. There are attempts to veer away from the report as the basis, distort, complicate and make unworkable a judicial commission and have its work take ages to complete. The SACP rejects the manoeuvre in toto.
We also want to be clear. Commissions and the courts can only play a small part. It is mass mobilisation against the rot (altogether its foundation in the form of the tenderisation of our state and its embedding in private wealth accumulation interests) that will ultimately tilt the balance of forces in favour of our revolution and the people as a whole.
This is why, as the SACP, we are saying:
Let us join forces with all progressive South Africans and save our young democratic transition from destruction.
Our struggle is far from over.
Inequality and poverty remain persistent and widespread. Over nine million of our people are unemployed. Thousands of workers in the mining sector are facing retrenchment. State revenue is impacted in proportion with the loss of Pay as You Earn as a result of dismissals. The fastest growing expenditure of our national budget is debt repayment plus associated interest. The SACP has nothing in common with rating agencies. It is President Zuma who delivered South Africa squarely in their hands through his reckless actions resulting in economic downgrades by those imperial agencies. The cost of borrowing that is impacting negatively on our economy cannot be understood without recognising the negative impact of the junk downgrades our political economy has suffered.
Yet another crisis in our communities
Our communities are ravaged by social insecurity as a result of crime in general, in particular drug dealing, which leads to other serious crimes and has at its top big business. The recent crime statistics released by the Police indicating high levels of crime are a serious problem. They are a reflection of communities under criminal torture. It appears crime is not firmly both an economic sector and a parallel governing regime in our communities.
Our youth are ravaged by substance abuse and the increasing scourge of violence in general and gender based violence in particular affecting in the main females of all ages who are further facing another problem, human trafficking.
Both crime and corruption are the products of the capitalist ideology of individualism, which is currently under its extreme phase of neoliberalism. One cannot develop a clear grasp of both crime and corruption including state capture in isolation from their material basis - which lies in the capitalist mode of private wealth appropriation and the greed of individualism (the "me", "my" and "mine") that it engenders.
What is to be done?
That is why we would appreciate a strong political programme from the workers to counter corporate state capture and defend our democratic national sovereignty, our constitution, our democracy and its further expansion, and the values of our movement.
That is, we must deal with the parasites inside our movement particularly and also in government and the private sector who collude to sell out our country to the highest bidders. Our country is not for sale!
That is why workers should campaign for Zuma to step down. A failure to act against him is a reflection of political paralysis; it is a reflection of the collapse of revolutionary moral high ground; it is a reflection of the rule of factionalism. It is the same as keeping a rotten corpse in the house in the "wisdom" that the smell will disappear. Surely that can only be an absolute game of fools.
Let us deal decisively with the political-economic incarnation of the cymothoa exigua parasite
Some things are best illustrated by examples, as is the situation of those who are captured and use their positions in our movement and the state to defend and advance the accumulation agenda of their capturers. Allow me to give an example of what a tongue-eating fish parasite (called cymothoa exigua) does when it has captured a fish's tongue.
The parasite thrives by finding its way to a fish through its gills and attaches itself to the tongue where it sucks the prey's blood. It attacks the tongue to atrophy from lack of blood in other words until the tongue withers away from lack of blood. The parasite then attaches itself to the muscles of the remains of the fish's tongue, thus replacing it and rendering the fish to use the parasite as if it was its normal tongue, becoming the prosthetic tongue. When the fish dies the bloodsucker detaches itself and clings on to the prey's head and body and sucks it to finish. This will be the inevitable fate of our movement and democracy if we do not repel and smash the parasites.
What has become clear is that unless we dislodge the parasitic bourgeoisie from our movement, and from our state, the parasites will finish off our strategic capacity and discipline to confront monopoly capital, the primary adversary of our revolution and movement. The parasites will continue to punch holes and widen entry points in our movement for, and expose our alliance as a whole to, successful attacks by both domestic opponents of our revolution and by imperialist forces behind monopoly capital. That is why, as the SACP, we have correctly characterised the parasites in addition to private monopoly capital as the most immediate threat to our movement and revolution.
We must deal decisively with the political incarnation of the phenomenon of cymothoa exigua parasite that is eating our movement, our democracy and revolution.
Our revolution is currently in a state of stagnation or an interregnum. That is, it needs a revitalisation and must reconnect with its motive forces, the masses, and must rekindle our value system. Equally we make an assertion that the revolution is not synonymous with the ANC but that revolutionary democratic ANC has an important role to play in the revolution.
The issue whether the ANC can rescue itself from the political and moral decay it has been plunged into. Related to this question is whether the alliance can rescue the revolution. If the ANC is not recued, which forces will take forward the revolution, and what will be the character of their content and composition?
The current functioning of the alliance in its current form will not be able to hold movement together going forward and will fail to lead our revolution to its logical conclusion. There is abuse of political power in our collective name. This includes the abusive exercise of the prerogative right of the executive authority by the President. The last two cabinet reshuffles are undisputed practical examples. There was no consultation, not to mention the alliance, but with the leadership of the ANC itself. This is disconcerting.
In the recent past we have come out as alliance partners to highlight the problem of corporate capture and corruption that is destroying our collective unity as a movement and that has led to the weakening of democratic institutions meant to discharge public functions. Instead of wielding state power to advance the revolution, private personal, family and corporate interests are gained an elevation to a supreme position.
The SACP has over the years been theorising and trying to draw the attention of comrades to different possibilities facing the revolutionary movement. For instance as far back as 1991 in trying to comprehend the challenge posed by the collapse of the Soviet Bloc the African Communist carried an intervention that told a figurative story of a comrade named Uncle, Malume. Known as a man of the people during the struggle for liberation, Malume finds himself post liberation struggle, the story goes, trapped in what the document refers as "The Protocols of Power".
Security arrangements, dress code, behavioural codes of power and formal meetings are the order of the day. Uncle lost touch with the people since all he does is mingle with diplomats and VIP's. He relies more and more on formal briefings and pseudo public events comprised of rented crowds to embed an image in his mind that all is well. Uncle no longer addressed as Comrade but now as Minister. In the end what this article points to is how he ended up being a changed man - a man changed by the "protocols of power". His good intentions could not stand the manipulation of those around him.
As we meet here today it is worth reflecting on this story told in 1991. In fact the media leaks around state capture have highlighted this point quite vividly - how people around our ministers - be they spouses, be they advisors and in some cases personal assistants have been used to surround ministers who are in the state of venality and get them to serve a criminal network such as the Guptas. A President who for intent and purpose enjoyed the same affinity with the masses as Uncle did, cannot go to a rally unless it is that of a faction and without those attending having to be scanned by security forces.
We are facing deep seated problems of factionalism, dubious parallel organisations, patronage, and distortion of internal democracy, gate keeping and the vilification of those who disagree with the rot.
We are faced with corrupting networks of apartheid South Africa who have carried over their agenda into the post-apartheid dispensation. This includes their pursuit of an active deployment strategy.
We are also facing capture through education and training. How many officials at treasury and the reserve bank have studied at the London School of Economics? Even if the number might be minuscule but key officials in strategic centres of those two institutions have studied there. So the ideological stronghold of neo-liberalism holds. Why does parliament have a study programme for MP's to study at London School of Economics but not in Cuba for example? It is a choice - a class choice.
So when we talk about the Guptas and the immediate threat they pose, the pervasive corrupt practices they have inserted into our movement, we must not be told by the Guptarites that we support the "white monopoly capital". We are critical of them too and we abhor them for their corrupting tendencies. They are not our class friends. The issue though is that in the immediate, the Guptas and their public looting have left us with no money. Our country is broke. Public debt will go over the 60% of GDP, whilst in principle there is nothing wrong with public debt, the question is debt for what.
We have argued later in the years as the SACP that we need to understand the systemic roots of corruption in our society. For this purposes allow me to quote from our former Deputy General Secretary Cde Jeremy Cronin who wrote:
"For instance, the 'social distance' that Cde Netshitenzhe and others invoke is not just a metaphor - in South Africa, in which we have not transformed apartheid colonial spatial injustices, social distance is also a yawning geographical reality. For those familiar with the children's board-game, our untransformed social reality can easily pitch the new middle strata into a political game of snakes and ladders, in which the snakes and the ladders are exaggeratedly long. If you land on the right square, by securing a regional chairpersonship in the ANC for instance, you might suddenly find yourself on a heady upward ascension. But if you lose your footing, you are liable to fall rapidly down a very long snake, back to zero and abject poverty."
Your reports speak to this question in passing in addressing the matter of the unity of the alliance. Organisationally we no longer have democratic practices of elections. Inner party democracy in our movement, with the ANC at the epicentre, has been hijacked by those who want to quickly land on the right square as Cde Jeremy puts it so that they can go up the ladder and get rich quickly.
Taking the matter forward in our latest intervention on Umsebenzi on line the SACP General Secretary, Cde Blade Nzimande quotes from the Communist Manifesto to highlight the quagmire our revolution faces:
"The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the state... and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible".
The failure of our democratic breakthrough to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible has meant that the competition for political office has become competition for access to public resources.
The state is the main source of survival given that productive forces have not been expanded since 1994. In fact the adoption of the neo-liberal macro-economic framework in 1996 which led to liberalisation resulting in imports dependency and capital flight, both legal and illicit, as opposed to localisation, building and expanding production. Today we are suffering the decision made against government intervention in the private sector through an active industrial policy. We have proved the scholars who argued that an imperfect state intervention is better than none right. It is in this context that we must understand state capture, comrades.
ANC December 2017 National Conference
By the way one of the things that the state capturers do is to reinforce an ideological onslaught against the state and state provision of goods and services. This is why we must understand and differentiate our struggle against corruption and that of the DA. When we say there are challenges with state owned enterprises and we must rid them of maladministration and poor governance the DA says privatise them. Such ideological dogma of market fundamentalism is not helpful. We need to strengthen the public sector, not to destroy it.
We must also be clear that the challenges we are facing will not only or merely be overcome by an electoral outcome at the forthcoming 54th National Conference of the ANC in December. Let us be clear on one thing - whilst not getting involved in internal affairs of the alliance partner, we all know that if you look at the track record of those in the forefront of drumming up support for Cde Nkosazana half of them if we were serious about fighting corruption they should be in jail. Whilst we do not support any particular candidate but it is true that on the balance of probability a particular electoral outcome will not secure us a stronger basis to launch a fight against corruption.
Popcru and State Capture
Popcru, comrades, occupies a structural, critical position of privilege in the fight against state capture, our most immediate threat to the successful execution of our revolution.
One thing that has crystallised over time is how the security services have been captured as a strategy to halt possible criminal investigation into state capture. Piles and piles of evidence have been ignored. Now lately there are stronger intimations of even connections between some in government and organised thugs. Our people feel let down by the investigators be they in SAPS and in the HAWKS.
No one trusts crime intelligence anymore. In fact; crime intelligence is the bedrock of rogue intelligence gathering activities. It has now mutated into Political Crime Intelligence Unit - it is not monitoring those committing crime but those it suspects are committing political crime by publicly airing their views against state capture. Even the State Security Agency has become a platform for wrongdoing and organised gangsterism with poor accountability record and suspicious covert projects.
One major political task facing Popcru is a major responsibility to restore the confidence of our people in the ability of our security services to without fear and favour carry out investigations of allegations of wrongdoing and work with the prosecutors to bring to book those involved. There are now talks for private prosecutions because the public sector section is too timid and indifferent.
The working class has pinned its hopes on you, comrades, to rescue our public resources from the Guptas, a family that our political leaders have mortgaged our country to. Enough is enough!!
Popcru should be at the forefront of cleaning up the Police and Correctional Services to ensure that the security services can defend our democracy and its further development and deepening.
Similarly we must address the work environment of men and women in uniform. Stress levels of police and correctional officials leading to them killing their families, resorting alcohol abuse, etc., must be addressed. Re-militarisation of the police has not enabled the consolidation of the relationship between security services and the community to defend our democracy further develop and advance it.
Popcru and the SACP's Red October Campaign
Comrades, this year, the SACP 14th Congress decided that the focus of our 2017 Red October Campaign must be on intensifying the struggle to end Gender Based Violence. If left unchecked, violence in our communities, in the economy and society at large will plunge our nation into deeper crisis.
Very recently, Statistics South Africa released a report showing that sex crimes have increased. We must bring this problem to an end and create a society in which everybody regardless of sex, sexual orientation and age is safe! There is visible social mobilisation against corruption and state capture. We must intensify our mobilisation to radically reduce and address economic inequality, unemployment, poverty, corruption and corporate state capture. However, we must, at the same time deepen the struggle against violence and pay more attention to gender-based violence in all spheres of societal activity.
Sexual and gender-based violence is not only to be found in the household or residential areas. It is to be found also in industry. Females are the majority on the receiving end of sexual violations, gender-based violence and men who use their positions of authority at work to impose their sexual desires on women, either using subtle or crude forms of violence.
Elimination of gender-based violence and child abuse requires cross-cutting mobilisation of the nation as a whole.
Build a popular front!
At our Congress we resolved to forge the broadest possible patriotic front to defend our democratic constitution and deepen our democracy and a Popular Left Front of forces to defend, advance and deepen our revolution. We need to build, as part of the strategy, a front to eliminate gender-based violence.
Popcru, once more is quite central in the task at hand, consistent with the clarion call of the theme of this CEC around transformation of the criminal justice cluster in order to defend our revolution.
Popcru has a major responsibility to protect working class communities from crime; in particular breaking the familial cycle of crime, ridding communities of drug peddlers and working with Social Development to get youth out of drugs and crime.
Is there a role for Popcru to work with expanded public works programme (EPWP) to get youth to be the defenders of the community rather than getting involved in gangs and crime? What happened to the original 1995 concept of community policing and 1997 crime prevention strategy? How do we, working with members of Popcru, strengthen Community Policing Forums in working class communities and the Know and Act in Your Neighbourhood campaign?
Similarly, how do we strengthen street committees, street WhatsApp groups and street Facebook pages as important platforms for crime prevention and ridding our communities of criminality and gender based violence?
It is our view that Popcru has a major role to play major in the 365 days fight against gender based violence. Society needs police and correctional services officials who will stand with the victims, and with the community to stop gender based violence.
Popcru members must lead in educating the community about crime prevention; on how to access criminal justice services and should be in the forefront of promoting the Police's Six Point Plan in relation to police and gender based violence. Popcru should reach out to broader community based organisations to deliver on the task.
In these way comrades we can draw more Popcru activists into broader community struggles and activism.
I would be doing injustice, comrades, if I was to conclude my address here without touching on other critical issues that inform our joint work on political education. The delegation benefitted a lot from practical based learning on how to set up a political school and wish to deepen this aspect.
The SACP values its joint work with Popcru on political education and we are hoping that we can develop it further to deepen dedicated Marxist-Leninist education. Your organisational report is quite impressive in relation to the work you are doing to build all round skills of your shop stewards.
We will surely learn from it as the SACP. We must not lose sight of ideological development. We would be proud if this CEC could direct your NOB's to set aside some resources for joint political school focussing on ideological development. Furthermore, we are looking forward to your college being an important platform for Marxist-Leninist education.
In addition, if Popcru has close to 160,000 members and the SACP only has approximately 300, 000 members, that suggests that a few workers take up to the task of actively joining the ranks of the Party. We are aware of the problems associated with our debit order system given how many of us are swimming in debts. But, comrades, we cannot rely on the bourgeoisie to fund their class enemy, the SACP. We wish to make a call to Popcru members to swell the ranks of the SACP, not merely for money, but for the actually strengthening of the SACP with your experiences from the workplace.
We thank you for your attention!