Our cadres are on all fronts and terrain of the struggle

2011-07-30 11:39

Celebrating 90 years of the SA Communist Party (SACP) is indeed a ­milestone in the heroic struggle by South African communists for national liberation, socialism, people’s power, and the ­reconstruction of our country from the ravages of colonialism and apartheid.

Ours is a principled and ­unshaken struggle for a better South Africa, a better world ­order, a socialist society.

Capitalism constitutes the gravest threat to the survival of humanity and our planet.

While capitalism has brought about truly revolutionary ­changes to the world – from the steam engine, to the airplane, to the internet – it has ­simultaneously done this at the expense of billions of people and our environment.

The world today produces enough food for everyone to eat, yet billions of people still go to bed hungry every night.

Capitalism’s technological revolution has come at a price for the majority of the globe’s population. Only a more humane system, socialism, can harness such technological progress for the benefit of humanity as a whole.

No history of South Africa can be written without mentioning the role of the SACP.

Our party was founded in 1921, four years after the ­triumph of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia in 1917.

The founding congress ­happened in Cape Town on July 31 and was attended by 14 ­delegates. From its modest, but principled, beginnings, the SACP now boasts more than 130 000 members, the largest political formation after the ANC.

The popularity of the SACP today, and for the past few ­decades, resonates among ­millions of workers and the poor of our country.

The SACP was indeed part of the victorious forces fighting against the criminal apartheid regime until 1994.

The SACP has been part of virtually all the major political developments in the struggle against national oppression. We were part of the Rand Revolt by white workers in 1922, though we did not associate with all the slogans of that strike.

Communists were among those who were hanged by the Smuts regime after the strike.

We are a party of socialism, but also a party for national ­liberation. We evolved, in practice, dual political membership.

This has particularly confused, and often angered and frustrated our enemies and detractors.

We have made enormous ­contributions and sacrifices ­towards building the ANC into what it has become today, yet the SACP has also learnt a lot from the ANC.

No political party in our ­country can claim to equal the record of the SACP in building a progressive trade union ­movement.

From its inception, the SACP not only threw its weight behind the progressive struggles of the workers, but in its own way, ­initiated and built progressive trade unions.

We built the Industrial ­Commercial Union (from which communists were later expelled, thus collapsing that union), built the unions that ultimately formed the South African ­Congress of Trade Unions in 1955, led the great mineworkers’ strike of 1946 and, through our underground structures, ­contributed significantly to the formation of Cosatu.

Not only did we survive the banning by the apartheid regime in 1950 – the first organisation to be banned under apartheid – but we rebuilt the SACP in the underground from 1953, with communists at the forefront of the mass struggles of the 1950s.

We are also a communist ­party of mass activism, whether in the struggles of the squatter camps in the 1940s through leaders like Dora Tamana or our more recent struggles for the transformation of the financial sector, land and agriculture.

Today credit bureaus are ­regulated. We have the Mzansi account for the poor, cooperative banks legislation and regulation of capitalist credit, thanks to a campaigning SACP, with and for workers and the poor.

The SACP has since its inception been the party of and for education. Our night schools in the 1940s trained hundreds of communists in Marxism­Leninism and our liberation struggle.

We set up party schools in communist countries during the exile period and joint party schools with the trade ­union movement post-1990.

Political education was, and still remains, one of our most important weapons in the ­struggle against national ­oppression and capitalism.
Of course, some of our ­detractors have tried to relegate our role in the movement only to that of a party of theory.

While the SACP has played an enormous role in educating not only SACP but ANC and trade union cadres over the decades, such education has always been enriched by, and in turn enriches concrete political and mass struggles on the ground.

Throughout its 90 years of ­existence, the SACP was never about theory alone. It has ­embarked upon and initiated struggles against capitalism, ­colonialism and apartheid on all fronts, including participation in the armed struggle. All these struggles have enriched our ­theoretical edge.

As a political party of the working class, we are also a ­party of governance that is deeply interested in political power and building the influence of the working class. We aim to build working-class power and influence inside and outside the state.

Let all the capitalists, their liberal fellow travellers and the tenderpreneurs tremble before the might of the SACP, the ­vanguard of the working class.

» Nzimande is the general secretary of the SACP 

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