South African Communist Party (SACP) General Secretary Blade Nzimande has reiterated the party’s call for a change in the manner in which the tri-partite alliance operates.
He has told the SACP’s Special National Congress that the party must not hand the ANC a blank cheque ahead of the 2021 local government elections.
Nzimande has also cautioned against the fight against state capture and corruption becoming a pretext for government pushing forward with privatisation.
The party is meeting for a mid-term review of its policies following its July 2017 14th Congress.
In presenting his Political Report, Nzimande told the nearly 800 delegates attending the party’s Special National Congress, that while the SACP in principle should continue to provide electoral support for the ANC, they must hold the ruling party accountable for its conduct with regards to how a re-configured alliance should work.
Nzimande outlined the key challenges facing the country’s working class and the party’s efforts to advance a socialist agenda. Amongst these, he said was the push for privatisation of the country’s state-owned assets.
Nzimande cautioned that the effort by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government to cleanse the country of corruption may be used by some to re-establish a neo-liberal agenda for the country as was witnessed in the 1996 Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy.
He says this policy framework is at the heart of many of the problems plaguing the country today.
“Even in the early 2000s, we were told that Eskom power stations must be maintained, must be renewed and that we must also build extra generation capacity. We did not do that because we wanted to privatise. So, today we are sitting now in the middle of load shedding. It does not come from the top there. It is our own failure that has led to this load shedding. You know, Comrade Jessie, today, you deployed me to be Minister of Higher Education. You know, why there was fees must fall, because we did not invest in infrastructure including student accommodation because of neo-liberal policies.”
Efforts to transform the country’s financial sector, a long-time programme of the SACP, should be intensified according to Nzimande.
He said workers must ensure that they have a say in how their resources are invested.
“This is why the PIC has been funding some of the shenanigans, because the working class has just allowed its own resources to be invested without itself making a say on how it must be invested. What is it that is driving the Johannesburg Stock Exchange? It’s your own insurance policies and your pension and provident funds. Look at Old Mutual. Now, there are these little fights, skirmishes. The working class is folding its arms watching and yet, it is your funds that make 12% of Old Mutual.”
Nzimande also said that the Congress should also discuss whether state-owned enterprises should not go back to their policy departments instead of being located within the Department of Public Enterprises.
To advance working-class power, he said that the SACP will engage with Cosatu to convene a meeting of all trade union federations in the country, regardless of political affiliation.
The Special Congress enters its third day on Wednesday.