November 17, 2018


Fear of periphery hobbles SACP


MZWANDILE-MRABE1I’m acutely conscious that my take on the current character of the South African Communist Party (SACP) may ruffle feathers especially amongst those with ideological commitment of preserving the unworkable status quo.

The question that has been clouding my mind is whether does the SACP still sees itself, in the midst of it been swelled by the ANC, as the vanguard of the main motive forces of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) or not.

This question is informed by the party’s negligence of its primary task of ensuring that the working class and the poor are not only placed at the centre of government programmes but are also benefited by such.

The SACP continues to minimally re-affirm the leadership of the working class in the NDR and consciously forgets to identify strategic tasks that will deepen the working class content of the NDR.
There is currently an alien tendency that besieged the party. Its members spend too much time trying to vilify others in pursuit of deployment in government while paying very little attention to the agenda and programme of its strategic opponent-poverty. The current tension between the party and ANC in Kwazulu-Natal is my point of reference.

The SACP needs a leadership of high calibre to seize the crisis and turn it into an opportunity for regeneration and to ensure that the party is not just a flat spare-tyre of the ANC that assists to carry neo-liberal policies in the disguise of the National Development Plan (NDP).

And fortunately, lest I am accused of misinformation, the SACP and COSATU have on numerous occasions publicly acknowledged that certain sections of the NDP are neo-liberal in their character and need to be relooked.

Yes, the revolutionary alliance between the party and the ANC is indeed founded on the principled understanding of the character and content of our NDR with the ANC viewed as the broad revolutionary movement for all the disfranchised and the SACP as the vanguard party of the working class and the poor
The party is thus a socialist formation while the ANC is neither socialist nor capitalist but do work together informed by their different political orientations as well as the common goal that bind them together.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in the ANC successfully seeking to change the party from its socialist stance when in fact it should be the SACP that should continuously force the ANC to adopt a socialist perspective to realise a fully-fleshed socialist state in our lifetime.

Unlike pre1994, we now have an organisation in which theory and intellectual reflection is being eclipsed by the politics of pragmatism and careerism camouflaged in the “swelling the ranks of the ANC” failing formula.

Truth be told. The fact that we are struggling to deal effectively with the triple social ills-unemployment, poverty and inequality is grounded not only on the party’s acquiescence of the ruling party’s policies (for example the E-tolling project, etc), but also on the capitulation of government.

The dichotomy of the party’s politics and that of the ruling party is known and old. In fact, it was crafted to serve a specific purpose, which purpose, I argue, has long been realised.
The problem in the SACP started when its members were absorbed into the bureaucratic machinery of the government with its frontline leaders no longer been vocal on issues that affect the working class and the poor.

How the swelling of the ranks of the ANC and being part of a government that does not have pure socialist programmes contributes to the long-term socialist agenda of the party is a mystery to me.

In fact, this opens a wide vacuum for the advancement of personal ambitions hence we start to see growing tensions and simmering divisions in the alliance sponsored, secondarily, by the party’s unwillingness to exit the alliance and go solo.

Make no mistake. I believe with great conviction that the party has intellectual leadership not only to craft socialist programmes, if it wants to, but also to run them. However, the problem is fear of been in the periphery and to belong nowhere.

The argument that the SACP’s role is not to lead in this phase of revolution has long ceased to hold water as it is evident between it and the very class which it is its vanguard. A vanguard party which champions the cause of the working class and the poor is supposed to provide theoretical leadership to grapple with any societal challenge and refuse to find refuge in the post 1994 bourgeoisie agenda that seems to be here to stay.

Unless the party rises above the kind of heteronomy that currently dominates our politics to design an alternative paradigm, it will never be distinguished from other political parties and will hardly drive the NDR to its ultimate logical conclusion.

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