"Amidst the global economic crisis, there is a new 'scramble for Africa'."

Address of General-Secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), cde Blade Nzimande on the occasion of the opening of the 12th Meeting of the International Communist and Workers Parties (ICWP).

 

Dear Comrades,

Welcome to this great gathering of left anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and pro-peace, and democracy and for solidarity with the working peoples of the world.

We are meeting here in South Africa – on the very first time that such a gathering takes place on African soil - in a very important period on the South African calendar.

In this month of December 2010 , there shall be this 12th Meeting of the International Communist and Workers Parties (IWCP), followed by the the 25th anniversary of the largest trade union federation in our country, COSATU – our ally and arguably the largest trade union federation on the African continent , and thereafter followed by the the 3rd National Congress of the SACP’s Young Communist League of South Africa (uFasimba), and finally, for the first time ever in our country, the gathering of the 17th Students and Youth Festival, organised by our allied mass formation, the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY).

Thus, this December, the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist forces, and all progressive socialist forces, shall all, in unison, raise the red flag, which symbolises the blood of the working peoples all over the world-over, making the point loud and clear, that the great importance for the future of Africa and world peace are realistic goals for which the working class and poor of the continent are willing to fight for and achieve.

The holding of this first ever meeting of communist and workers’ parties on the African continent continue to symbolise the decades long solidarity of communist and workers’ parties with cause of national liberation, anit-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles waged by the peoples of the African continent. These solidarity struggles were taken to higher levels immediately after the victory of the Great October socialist revolution, the former Eastern Bloc socialist countries, as well as all the progressive communist forces all over the world.

South Africa’s liberation movement, of which the South African Communist Party, has always been an integral component, benefitted greatly from this international socialist and progressive solidarity. It is was this global progressive solidarity, coupled with the heroic struggles of South Africa’s people, under the leadership of the African Nationa Congress (ANC), that led to the final defeat of the criminal apartheid regime and the advent of the 1994 democratic breakthrough.

We characterised the first democratic election in 1994 as a democratic breakthrough for two principal reasons. Firstly it was a breakthrough because it was not a final defeat of the totality of reactionary forces, thus signalling that the struggle for the total emancipation of the oppressed majority was far from over. It was, and still is, for this reason that the South African Communist Party has chosen to remain and be a critical component of the alliance led by the African National Congress.

We characterised 1994 as a democratic breakthrough also because we know as South African communists that the total liberation of the black people of our country, whose majority is still the working class, will not be fully realised unless there is a transition to socialism – the only system best capable of destroying all the vestiges of capitalist exploitation, gender oppression and the national oppression of the people of our country. In other words, the completion of the tasks of the national democratic revolution can only be achieved under a socialist dispensation.

The tasks of the South African revolution still largely reflect the political challenges facing the African continent as a whole. The fundamental challenge of our continent is that of the completion of national democratic revolutions in each country, a task that is simultaneously the main platform upon which to consolidate and advance the struggle for socialism. In other words, the struggle to consolidate, advance and deepen progressive national democratic revolutions is our direct path to socialism.

The ‘new’ capitalist scramble for Africa and the global capitalist crisis

With deepening crisis of global capitalism, there is also a corresponding increase for a new scramble for Africa, almost reminiscent of the rise of European colonisation of the African continent in the 19th century.

The SACP, together with the rest of the world’s communist and workers’ parties, has consistiently insisted that the current global capitalist crisis is not just an aberration, but an integral part of the capitalist system

There are many similarities between the 19th century scamble for the African continent in the 19th century and today’s new scramble for Africa. It is a scramble for the super-exploitation of Africa’s natural resources without any local development initiatives for Africa. Similarly this is being accompanied by now the military might of the United States, which is building a new military force in Africa, perversely named ‘Africa Command’, as if it were an African army in the interests of our continent, when it is in fact the building of a united military force to protect and advance the interests of imperialism on the African continent.

At the same time there is something new about the current scramble for Africa. It is now a renewed capitalist offensive that is trying to hang onto its economic dominance in the light of the emergence of potential, alternative economic centres of power, especially China, India and Brazil.

In the light of these new realities there is indeed a new possibility to forge new kinds of relations with the working classess and other progresssive forces in the developing world to try and exploit these new spaces to challenge imperialism.

As this 12th Meeting of the ICWP happen in our country, many on the continent would have during the course of this year, pondered and wondered aloud what the celebrations marking 50-years of de-colonisation has meant to them and the struggles for national liberation, for which, they would have laid their lives for.

By hosting this 12th Meeting in South Africa, the international communist movement is refocusing the issues and political questions around the thesis of the African Revolution. As the SACP, we have been seized with this question for a very long time.

Let us therefore use this 12th meeting of the ICWP as an ocassion for the deepening of the world’s progressive forces with the struggles of the people of the African continent. Let us also use this ocassion to express the world’s progressive forces with the heroic struggles of the Saharawi people (in Western Sahara) to free the last colony in the African continent, unfortunately still being colonised by another African country, backed to the hilt by mainlly French and US imperialist forces.

Let us also use this ocassion to express our solidarity with the people of Swaziland who are still suffering from the yoke of a feudalistic regime that has banned all political parties and freedom of organisation and expression.

The above constitutes some of the critical challenges facing the African revolution today!

The principal challenges of the South African revolution today

With the historic ANC national conference of 2007, there has arisen new opportunities in our country to deepen a radical national democratic revolution. That 2007 historic conference of our ally marked the defeat of a neo-liberal agenda that had sought to turn our prime liberation organisation, the ANC, into a narrow electoralist party pursuing neo-liberal policies and seeking to marginalise if not obliterate the working class and its prime organisations in South Africa, the SACP and COSATU.

The SACP has been guided, since 1995 – a year after our 1994 democratic breakthrough – by two critical strategic and programmatic objectives. The first one has been that of seeking to consolidated a working class led national democratic revolution as the principal platform on which to consolidate state power under the leadership of the ANC in alliance with the SACP and COSATU. Our slogan adopted immediately after 1994 is that of ‘Socialism is the future, build it now’. The principal content of this strategic orientation has been that the consolidation of the national democratic revolution require active socialist type organisation and mobilisation as the only guarantee to secure a transition to socialism in the future.

Since about the early 2000 we enriched our strategic perspectives and by grounding it on a programme and campaigns to build working class influence in six key sites of power: in the state, the economy, the workplace, the economy, ideologically and through internationalist solidarity. To this end we have intensified mass work and campaigns, coupled with communist participation in government and other institutions of the state, principally but not exclusively through our annual mass campaigning through what we have called ‘The Red October Campaign’, inspired by the Great October Socialist Revolution.

Our strategic vision has been grounded on an analysis that in our conditions, and under the leadership of the ANC, there is no contradiction, in the current period, between communist participation in the state, whilst simultaneously building independent working class and popular power both within and outside the state.

It is for these reasons, amongst others, that the SACP has sought to deepen and strengthen the alliance between ourselves, the ANC and COSATU, as a critical platform to consolidate both working class power, both inside and outside the state. It is these considerations that have also informed our participation in government, whilst not compromising the independent programmes of the SACP. It is also through this that we seek to expand opportunities and conditions for socialist agitation.

We have just been through one of the biggest global commodity booms just prior to the current global capitalist crisis. While some key sectors of capital did very well, we did not create nearly enough jobs and the systemic problems of the South African economy (huge inequalities, spatial marginalisation of at least half the population, and crisis-levels of unemployment) persisted and were even actively reproduced in the midst of 5% growth we experienced between 2002-07.

The SACP, working together with its allies, has consistently sought to create conditions for breaking with our semi-colonial growth path that is export driven and import dependent, whilst focusing on building the productive capacity of our economy. All this requires, in our strategic calculations, the mobilisation of the working class and our people as a whole, and the maintenance of the progressive orientation of our Alliance.

The global capitalist crisis is wreaking havoc on the lives of workers and poor throughout the world, including here in SA. While implementing defensive measures to mitigate the effects of this crisis as best as possible, we also need to use the crisis to boldly implement transformational measures that place our economy and our country on a worker and pro-fgrowth path.

At the heart of our strategic, tactical and programmatic response must be the mass mobilisation of the working class – the leading motive force of our national democratic revolution – to provide the mass power, strategic focus and tactical flexibility to overcome the current capitalist crises and lead us onto a new developmental growth path.

The necessity for working class intenationalist solidarity and the ICWP platform

It is from the above South African realities that the SACP firmly believes in the necessity to continue deepening global working class solidarity. The platform of the ICWP remains critical and relevant to pursue progressive and independent policies as a country and the African continent, as the most immediate terrain of struggle for socialim in our country, in the continent and indeed in the whole world.

In our own way we have over the last two years started an initiative of a network of left progressive forces on the African continent to deepen the struggle for democracy, peace and for socialism. We have done this under the umbrella of a loose African Left Network Forum (ALNEF). Indeed this is not a forum made up of only Marxist-Leninist parties or formations, but rather a forum for progressive organisations and parties on the continent who broadly identify with the struggle for social and economic justice, full national liberation and an alternative just, if not socialist future, for our continent. It is this forum that we would also like the ICWP to support and seek to strengthen as its primary continental partner in Africa.

On behalf of the SACP, and indeed the workers and the poor of our country, we welcome all our comrades and friends to this truly historic and first ever meeting of communist and workers’ parties of the world. Please also do enjoy South African hospitality and we offer the friendship of our people to all the delegates to this gathering.

Socialism is the future – Build it Now!

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