This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
Billy Nair: Emergence of the Party as a legal party
DATE[80/01/01] 42 AVOCO, EFFINGHAM, DURBAN 1
EMERGENCE OF THE PARTY AS A LEGAL PARTY CHALLENGE FACING THE PARTY
Comrade BN's introduction to discussion:
In the light of the CC statement, I will recast my input and deal with the crisis facing socialism first and then lead up to the qeustion of the negotiations. Comrades,,the concepts and the practice of peristoika and glastnost were followed by a wide ranging riple effect throughout the socialist world, third-world and even capitalist countries all over were affected. For the past year or so those upheals particularly in the USSR and the socialist bloc countries affected communists. So much so that comrades felt disillusionment; questions were raised as to whether Comrade Gorbachev was not reformist - whether the socialist countries were not going to the reformist path to reintroduce the capitalist mode of production. Things seemed to hang in the air.
The events of the past year in the socialist world generally and in Eastern Europe specifically has had an effect on our thinking as well. Some comrades
are feeling disillusioned - wondering whether the initiaive of Gorbachev not reormist. This question still hangs in the air. What emerges clearly is that the whole socialist world was faced with a deep going socio-economic crisis.
Mass organisations puppets of the state and people did not enjoy the independence that they should have.
The famous words on glastnost and peristroika and the input by comrade JS on the crisis facing socialism, are very useful for us. What emerges quite clearly is that the whole socialist world particularly in the SOVIET UNION was faced with a crisis. The masses of the people not only felt a sense of alienation but were, in fact, alienated from the party and state. Instruments of the people to remove systems of exploitation and oppression - which they had used before eg. in times of the czar and the facsist elements - organisations of youth, unions, women, students, became mere puppets in the hand of the party and state; not permitted the freedom and democracy that they were supposed to have enjoyed. Alienation between people and the party, the party and the working class and the party and the youth developed.
The GDR was once regarded as the showpiece of socialism where people enjoyed higher standards of living. Even there we had massive crisis. Even from there there was a severe indictment of the state. Why? It appears that people who have worked amongst civics and in the mass organisations were totally ignored and any dissent was met with reprisals. In the USSR there was the gulag and in other countries there were similar institutions, eg Rumania. In a word, comrades, we have documentation - I don't want to attempt to repeat this but I think it would be instructive for us to study these documents and learn not repeat the mistakes that were made.
We had an advantage as South African communists. We also were a part of the broad front in the South African struggle. Even preceding the famous 1946 statement, the party has consistently worked for the national democratic struggle and individual members even played a leading role in this struggle. Hallmarks of the CP's independence like the Freedom Charter and the armed struggle; party members played a big role in the challenge, the party did not remain isolated. Tribute has been paid to us for the fact that we did not remain an exclusive club that our decisions found their way into the trade union movement, the national movement and were implemented there. There have been rejections of proposals by the party and vice versa - so there has been an exchange or ideas. Eg, on the question of armed struggle: at first the party members did not support it. It took some time for some party members to be convinced.
It is in this way that you could say that we are able to appreciate that the upheavals in the socialist world between the state, party and the people could be avoided if we remain close to our traditional role as not only a vanguard but also paying attention and adhering to the aspirations of the people. Constantly learning from the people and being able to adjust party policy to this. The lessons that we can draw are such.
It is in this context that we will have to reassure our own comrades that the upheavals of socialism does not mean the end of socialism. The bourgeoisie has not looked at their systems critically: - their whole system of inequality could never be solved under those relations of production. Unlike the critical ways of the socialist world, how it is looking at itself and making necessary adjustments, capitalists are not able to. The process of re-examination in socialits countries has also set the imperialist world back, eg disarmament and international peace innitiatives that have emanated from this process.
This brings me, within this context, to the question of the States unbanning of the party and de Klerk's statement that there is no immediate threat from communism and that the party is no real threat to the system. The unbanning can take place, according to de Klerk, from a position of strength. Yet our struggle culminating in the massive defiance of last year; the failure of the surrogate forces of the Bantustans, etc was thoroughly exposed; the exposure of the SADF in Namibia and Angola and the quick rapid withdrawal of troops from Angola - and the regime suffered major setbacks in Angola; all these things belie de Klerk's claims of strength. Millions of people took to the streets and the state was forced to retreat.
The question that we need to pose that what if negotiations fail? Is the state ensured of co-opting us and making the ANC an instrument of its aims?
Clearly comrades, nogotiations are a terrain of battle and it does not necessary follow that if the state does not adhere to our demands, the fight goes on and the struggle continues until we have reached our objectives.
Negotiations is a terrain of battle. If this collapses, the struggle is not over - the struggle goes on.
Mac's paper: Building a Party of a New Type
Even though it is difficult to quantify it is becoming clearer by the day that the support and following of the Party are at an all time high.
There are a number of reasons which ground the belief that the potential for Party growth is immeasurably greater than at any time in its history. The reasons for this are:
a) partly a spill-over from the growing support for the ANC-led Liberation Alliance and a recognition of the Party's role in this Alliance.
b) a recognition amongst militants of the ideological contribution the Party has made historically to influence the national movement in the direction of militancy and revolutionary nationalism.
c) The existence of a large constituency of workers and youth with a vaguely defined urge towards socialism.
d) A feeling that the Party has stood guard over working class aspirations in the inter-class Alliance. And this is combined with a gut feeling that the Party, by its very nature, is more likely to be less compromising in dealings with the regime and in the choice of development options.
All these factors will assume even greater importance in the immediate period ahead as a result of two inter-dependent factors:
1) The ANC undoubtedly WILL remain the overall head of what will, for some time to come, be correctly described as a liberation alliance. For some time after a people's victory and certainly in the immediate aftermath of people's power, our perspectives will obviously be dominated by the need to consolidate the liberation process. But, as time goes on, the Alliance may well be widened. In the process, the role of the organised working class constituency within the Alliance will remain, if anything, more imperative.
2) The ANC itself will inevitably grow in leaps and bounds, attracting previous vacillating, unreliable and even collaborating elements from the middle sections. This may be unavoidable because it would be incorrect in any way to change the inter-class character of the ANC and its character as a mass movement. A considerable portion of these elements will be career - orientated elements or will, by virtue of their class background, try to steer the ANC itself away from its working class bias and towards solutions which favour the interests of the bourgeoisie.
In brief, the inevitable sharpening of the inter-class h)ideological contest, both in the run up to victory and in its immediate aftermath, requires as a matter of life or death the consolidation and growth of organised working class political and industrial power. From their longer term point of view the need to create conditions for an involvement towards socialism, will be frustrated without working class organised power.
There are many signs on the ground that if we fail to meet all these needs the vacuum will be filled by others. Many groups are waiting in .he wings. Their growth - if our independent force and strength is not asserted - have the most serious consequences not only for us but for the future of the ANC as a revolutionary nationalist organisation. All these realities present us with a number of short-term and long-term complexities at both political and organisational levels.
In the political sphere we need to note the following:
a) we must not take the alliance for granted. Already there have been murmurs from a small group of ANC cadres which suggest some confusion about the role of the Party in the new legal conditions. For example, during a recent discussion at the NEC on the phasing out of SACTU, one or two NEC members suggested that the role of the Party in the new conditions ought also to be considered. It is therefore not enough for us to rely on the past. We need to spread a more profound understanding about the future role of the party both in the developing situation and in the post apartheid phase. Media questions have been addressed to party representatives on issues such as what are our expectations in relation to future elections. Will the Party have an internal arrangement with the ANC or will it field its own candidates either in opposition to other political groups or by virtue of some electoral pact with the ANC? We consider these questions speculative and premature but they neverthless do point to a recognition that the Alliance will operate in a completely new context.
b) The crucial issue of the relationship between national liberation and social emancipation will require greater emphasis than ever before. In the post apartheid phase the choice of the path will no longer remain predominantly a theoretical disputation. The questions of development options will call for a practical decision. Although we have already publically committed ourselves to a mixed economy in the immediate post apartheid phase this perspective does not in itself dispose of the question of whether it will be a mixed economy with a capitalist orientation or one with a socialist orientation.
c) We have always insisted on our dual role - as an independent political organisation and as part of the Alliance. What new balance must be involved in these two imperatives? Is there a need to re-examine the shape of the Alliance in the new conditions? For example, comrades, these questions suggest themselves in relation to the existing prospects of negotiations. We should undoubtedly work to ensure that the ANC becomes the umbrella at the eventual negotiating table. This implies that various patriotic interest groups become an identifiable part of the ANC-led negotiating team. This was recently raised by COSATU comrades at the May 10, Johannesburg Joint Meeting. Do we as a Party insist on some form of independent participation under the umbrella of the ANC? If so, to what extent? In other words can the Party continue to subsume its role and leave it to be implied rather than to be seen as an independent participant? Whatever the future might hold, at the moment the umbrella concept remains imperative. The time is certainly not ripe for us to have joint delegations at the negotiating table. At the same time - as happened in the Groote Schuur talks - the Party should have a visible presence as part of the ANC delegation. Whilst on this question of negotiations, comrades, we must remain clear about the need not to allow the negotiating process to suffocate the struggle on the ground.
d) As already mentioned if we look slightly further ahead the question will arise of how we fit into any kind of election process. At this point the search for a definite answer is premature. But we must begin to toss it about in our minds.
e) The Alliance has now been re)cast with the phasing out of SACTU and the inclusion of COSATU. This is more than just a substitution. We can claim that, for the first time since SACTU ceased to be a trade union federation in the real sense of the word we now have an Alliance partner which truly represents the bulk of the organised trade union movement. Without in any way detracting from the tripartite content of the Alliance, there is a need to examine the extent to which the Party and COSATU need a special relationship. It would of course be wrong to institutionalise a separate joint structure. But activities such as the Harare Workshop continue to be in place as long as they are structured in such a way which does not detract from the tripartite Alliance.
f) The rapidly changing situation, both at home and internationally, require us to have another look at our recently adopted Party Programme - "The Path to Power". Certain formulations no longer lie happily alongside such recent developments.
WHAT KIND OF PARTY?
It is crystal clear that we have to build a Party of a new type. In addressing this question we must focus not only on the obvious fact that the style of work which was imposed upon us by underground conditions no longer has validity (in many respects), but also on the lessons of the disasters which afflicted so many Communist Parties in the recent period. It is true that our Party can claim some credit for having distanced itself many, many decades ago from some of the worst distortions which manifested themselves in a large slice of the International Communist and Workers Movement. At the same time, we must be conscious of the fact that there have been isolated indications that some of our members and structures still carry some baggage from the past. As we enter the new period we must be on our toes to eradicate all remaining vestiges of Stalinism in our style of work. In short, we must find ways of coping with the heritage created in the old conditions and infected by old thinking.
a) be more vigilant than ever against all remains of sectarianism, arrogance or elitism.
b) not mechanically reject those socialists who, in the past, expressed genuine reservations about some of our policies or practices. We need to concede that some of these criticisms were not completely unfounded.
c) in the new period, make a clean break with those limitations on inner-democracy and accountability which underground life and the drawbacks of exile imposed upon us.
d) above all, ensure that our role as vanguard of the working class must be one of democratic mobilisation and should not be imposed. Our party has no inherent right to claim the leadership of our class. That leadership must be won by gaining acceptance for our open policies and should not be based on a claim of right.
e) while working to win a primary place as political leader of the working class, accept political pluralism both now, for the post-apartheid phase and in the period of socialist construction.
As already noted the potential for our growth is enormous. Literally thousands of workers and youth are ready to come into our ranks. This positive reality imposes upon us the urgent need to find a new balance between the concept of a mass party and the existing rather elitist and narrow parameters which we have up to now set ourselves when approaching the question of recruitment.
The newly emerged and most impressive crop of working class leaders in both upper and middle levels are ready or half-ready to join our ranks. We should not make it as difficult as previously for them to join. Without sacrificing quality and without being reckless, this is the time to be less discriminating than we have been forced to be up to now.
Is it correct to use the words "mass party" when addressing problems of our growth? We believe that as long as attention is paid to calibre and quality we should not fear to use the term. There are on the ground many, many thousands among the workers and youth whom we must find and who must be publicly encouraged to find us. If the broad approach is accepted it will of course be necessary to spell out more detailed guidelines for recruitment which will reflect the true balance between quantity and quality. It will also be necessary to examine whether the method of probation should be maintained. It is a method which, even in the past, has not really worked effectively.
When we talk of democracy and accountability we should relate these concepts not only to inner-Party life but to the way we relate to our broad constituency. We must more and more seek ways of making the masses feel that they too have a say in the formulation of our policies. It is not suggested that major policy decisions must always give the weight to popular endorsement. But, there are many instances where it would be both correct and necessary to encourage an input from people on the ground and from their organisations before finalising a line of policy. This process of consultation was undertaken both in relation to the Workers' Charter campaign and to the discussion about the lessons of the failures of socialism. The approach has gained for us a considerable respect from fraternal organisations and activists on the ground.
THE PUBLIC FACE OF THE PARTY AND ITS INDEPENDENT ROLE
Forty years of illegality has left its own stamp on the way the Party was forced to operate and the way its members projected themselves at all levels. Over 90% of our membership have not experienced legality and have not acknowledged themselves publicly as communists. Most of their public and private political activity has been carried out through our fraternal organisations.
It is necessary to stress that one of the most important reasons for our Party's historic political impact was the fact that well-known communists were accepted by the people and by our fraternal organisations as men and women of the highest calibre who could be trusted to occupy some of the highest positions at broad leadership levels. Men and women like Kotane, Dadoo, Mabhida, Marks, Ray Alexander and numerous others played a seminal role in laying the foundations for the present popularity of our organisation.
Even in the more recent period the work of the few communist leaders who had a public face played a significant part in gaining increased support for our Party.
At virtually every meeting of our Central Committee since 1970 the question of the visibility of our members has been addressed. Even in the old conditions there was a continuous stress for the need to expose a greater number of our leading cadres. But in practice, the Party rejected a leadership which utterly distorted its true character. This helped to fuel speculation about the Party's role as a 'kabal' in other organisations.
The style of work which was imposed on us by illegal conditions and by the surroundings in which we were forced to work in exile has encouraged a psychological pattern which militates against open identification with the Party. We are of the view that (leaving aside certain complexities of the transition period) our goal must be to work for the creation of a Party in which both the leadership and the membership proudly acknowledge their membership. The visibility of the leadership and our membership will correctly reflect our make-up and our social conditions. We must separate this question from the problem which has faced our whole movement of activists "wearing two caps". This problem has a bearing on the division of functions in relation to available time. But, ultimately, those comrades who are involved full-time in the national movement, trade union movements, etc., should, in general, have no inhibition to acknowledge their affiliation. There may be exceptional cases but these must constitute a handful in relation to the total picture.
The Party must obviously continue to play an important role at all levels of the mass movement and devote a great deal of its energies to help build the ANC, trade union movement, etc. This applies to the Party as a collective in its institutionalised relationship to the mass movement and to individual members. But, as was the case prior to 1950, we must more and more be seen to be carrying out these tasks both as disciplined members of those organisations and as communists. It is also vital that a sufficient number of members both at leadership and grassroots levels should be selected to concentrate their main energies on the building of the Party.
There is a need to give more attention to our Party propaganda work such that this truly provides us with the agitational and organisational tools we need. Our aim should be to write, distribute and produce on the ground so that our propaganda becomes timeous and responsive to the day-to-day developments. This aspect of our work should also link up to our finding practical answers for the systematic education of our cadreship.
In relation to the immediate future it is imperative for the Party to emerge with an impressive public leadership which reflects our social and class composition and which pays attention to the gender question. In all respects we must publicly assert our legitimacy and our indigenous roots particularly against the background of a period where we have been projected by the enemy as a conspiratorial minority dominated clique.
All this must inform the content of the composition of an interim internal leadership group which we must announce at the public launch of our Party. We will also have to move with urgency towards creating District Committees and Branches initially in every major urban centre. This will require premises, full-time organisers and other structures. We must immediately begin to address the question of finding the resources to finance such an expansion.
It should be emphasised that our relationship with the Alliance requires a process of consultation regarding the immediate public identification of a necessary group of our cadres as open communists.
Questions relating to our underground structures, we rely for the main input to be made by our comrades who have had the more recent experiences of underground life.
In the immediate period, before the full return of exiles, we propose that the powers of the Party's Interim Leadership Group (CPILG) should be given the powers to act autonomously in ongoing work and addressing day-to-day organisational and political problems. But the CPILG falls under the jurisdiction of the existing Central Committee and its Political Bureau. All major aspects of our policy and. principal political interventions must be guided by the existing constitutional collectives.
It follows from many of the issues which we have addressed that we need to take a new look at our existing Constitution in order to prepare for its remoulding in the changed conditions. Although this may have to await the 8th Congress, consideration could now be given to interim variations which may be demanded in this new phase.
A recent Central Committee meeting of our Party decided that the 8th Congress will be convened at home in July 1991 on the 70th Anniversary of the founding of our Party. We have just over a year to prepare for that Congress. By the time it is convened our Party must have built. a national organisation with a mass base and with organised roots, especially among our working people.
Comrades, we greet your Mini-Conference as the most vital launching pad for building of our great organisation as an unconquerable force for the future of democracy and socialism. We pay warm tribute to those comrades whose sacrifice and courage in difficult underground conditions, have played such a seminal role in creating the base for an effective advance into the future. Your Mini-Conference will go down in our history as one of the most important steps in our long and noble struggle. We are all conscious that we have arrived at one of the most vital crossroads in our history. With a will and a determination which flows from all that is best in communist tradition we are sure that we can make it.
Long live the SACP!
Long live the ANC!
Long live the revolutionary alliance of ANC, SACP & COSATU!
Forward to democracy and socialism!
Joe's (Nyanda) paper: Path to power
Aspects from the programme in relation to our strategies for obtaining power in the current situation
Discussion introduced by Comrade Joe
The ascendancy to the leadership of the NP government by F.W.de Klerk has marked a significant shift by the NP from their obviously doctrinaire and authoritarian policies of the past. De Klerk has undeniably steered the Pretoria regime from its former stubbornness to a more accommodating posture all round. The unbanning of the ANC and the SACP and the subsequent release of comrade Nelson Mandela were watershed events in the brief but hectic spell of de Klerk as head of the Apartheid State.
These acts signalled beyond doubt that De Klerk sought to accommodate the individual demands of our people, which previous regimes were sworn to decry.
In a very short time the improbable has happened. Delegations of the regime and the ANC sat face to face - and the General Secretary of our Party was participating. What's more, the two opposing parties reached an accord.
In attempting to relook at our STRATEGIES FOR OBTAINING POWER in these changed circumstances, it is necessary to ask ourselves this question: What has made the architects of apartheid want to ditch it? What has made the same NP which for four decades presided over the most systematic and brutal savage suppression of the vast majority of the people of our country in the name of apartheid think it's time that it were gone?
Well, put simply, history had ran its course. Apartheid had reached a dead end. Long before the advent of de Klerk it had become clear even to the NP that this system could only be maintained at the risk of apocalyptic strife and that it would not survive the conflagration anyway. We all should remember John Vorster's admonitions that change had to come otherwise "...the situation would become too ghastly to contemplate."
But from John Vorster through to P.W.Botha this dilemma of reformism had been the utter rejection by the vast majority of strategems that sought to keep them away from central government power and based themselves on ethnicity.
It was, however, during P.W.Botha's tenure in office that resistance built up to unprecedented levels and when the first signs emerged that the Bantustan edifice was set to crumble. The tricameral parliament was exposed as a sham.
The economy was in a shambles as a direct result of the policies of the regime. Sanctions began to bite. The international community had lost all patience and there was talk of even more sanctions.
South Africa's rampant militarism was checked in Quito Cuanavale. The world was changing very fast. Glasnost and Perestroika ushered in a new era of searching, understanding and accommodation. Peace question broke out all over. The bellicose talk about the "Rooi Gevaar" could no longer have the same impact.
Inside, the country continued to burn. The masses were defying death and contributing to struggle despite a vicious State of Emergency. The workers were in the thick of these struggles. On the factory floor they were just as militant and restless. It was clear that the calm which prevailed after the State of Emergency was only a precursor to consummate an uprising.
Past regimes had been shackled to immobility for fear of right-wing reaction or because they were themselves prisoners of their own propaganda. They had preached so many lies about the ANC and what ogres its members were, that when it had to consider talking to these people it was difficult. They became victims of their own propaganda. What was needed was boldness on the part of De Klerk to clear them from this political quagmire.
And now the air is filled with hope of a negotiated solution after all these years of NP intransigence. How does this affect us?
We have already spoken of the need to radically alter the style and character of the Party, not only because of the recent lessons of weaknesses which have beset or destroyed many Communist Parties in Europe and the refreshing spirit of Perestroika, but also because of the new dynamics of Pretoriastroika, chief of which is the unbanning of the Party and the ANC.
The Party therefore needs a relook at its programmme. As the PB message states: "Certain formulations no longer lie happily alongside recent developements."
But this paper is not intended to address the programmme as a whole, only that aspect of it which relates to the methods of struggle with which we intend to bring about the transfer of power from the minority regime to the people.
In other words, how do the momentous events of the past year affect our perspective for achieving our immediate goals of the National Democratic Revolution as set out in our program.
Let us first examine what the key elements of our strategy are.
First of all, let me say that our Program, although it spells out the major strategic thrust which should guide our quest for power, works against dogmatic views as to which forms of struggle are persued.
Again,what are these key elements?
Our Program is very unambiguous on this. The paramount importance and centrality of the masses in the strategy for seizure of power is emphasised in the very opening sentence of the section on dealing with this question. "The Path to Power" lies with the masses.
The masses have played, and continue to play, the pivotal role in the crises that grips our country and has forced the Pretoria regime to sue for peace and search for radical solutions. The tide of resistance had swelled to such measures that any further increase and any delay would have made the crossing of the Rubicon very dangerous business indeed.
Apart from being the might force of militant action, our revolutionary masses are also central in the other forms of struggle, like armed struggle. Despite the objective conditions which make the waging of armed struggle in our country difficult, we have argued in our Program that armed struggle constitutes a vital ingredient in the rise of the struggle of our people for power. We have argued that difficulties notwithstanding, it is both possible and necessary to raise the level of our armed activity from being a mere menace to the regime to a real threat.
But our Program makes the correct point that our armed struggle "has to rely, above all, on the people in active struggle. The working class, in particular, possess vast possibilities to take the war to the nerve centres of apartheid colonialism." etc, etc.
Flowing from our analysis, we come to the conclusion in our Program that the South African situation was pregnant with promise of a revolutionary breakthrough. Our Program therefore addressed the likely development of a revolutionary situation which could lead to an insurrection. In this event too, the revolutionary masses, led by a revolutionary leadership, would be central.
The "Path to Power" therefore envisaged several forms of struggle, legal and illegal, armed and non-violent. It asserts that we are on the threshhold of a revolutionary breakhtrough, and that the sitution holds out the possibility of an outbreak of insurrection.
It does not, however, dismiss the prospects of a negotiated transfer of power. It asserts, in fact, that "there is no conflict between this insurrectionary perspective and the possibility of a negotiated transfer of power" and that "armed struggle cannot be counterposed with dialogue, negotiations and justifiable compromise, as if they were mutually exclusive categories."
Negotiations, therefore, are only another terrain of struggle. The struggle on other fronts must continue and intensify.
How does the changed situation affect our perspective? At first glance the dilemma seems to be explained away by the fact that we see no conflict between struggle and negotiations.
The Harare Declaration states quite clearly that our armed struggle will stay in place until the election of a Constituent Assembly. We have said that when the obstacles are removed in the way of negotiations, we are willing to enter with a mutually binding ceasefire. But the situation is more complex than that. The regime has been trying to force us to abandon armed struggle and renounce "violence". We have steadfastly refused to do so. But much as we have listed preconditions before real negotiations can begin, on the regime's agenda has been the attempt to cite "violence" and armed struggle as "rhetoric" about those as obstacles to negotiations. This is an attempt by the regime to compel us to bargain away armed struggle in exchange for the regime clearing away the remaining obstacles in the way of our participation in formal negotiations.
In this endeavour, the regime is not alone. For different reasons, his friends and some of ours also see the need for us giving up some of our methods in what they see as a necessary quid pro quo to establish trust and help ease the right wing pressure on De Klerk.
What, therefore, if anything, can we give, and what do we not? Firstly, De Klerk has gone too far in such a short period. that it no longer makes sense for him to hedge on the remaining preconditions. As soon as he moves on this in the spirit of the Groote Schuur Minute then we should be ready to enter into dialogue to bring about a mutually binding ceasefire.
The onus is really on the regime to deliver. We have no power. We seek the power. But this does not mean that we cannot be tactically flexible and offer, say a moratorium on armed activity.
I am not advocating this, be assured. I am only saying that if we were to consider gestures to the regime or were put in a situation where it was felt that it would be appropriate to give something. This moratorium would be different from a unilateral ceasefire.
We could do this in, say, after the release of political prisoners and return of exiles and the lifting of the State of Emergency. And this would also be for a stipulated, brief period during which, hopefully, a mutually binding truce will be arrived at. But we can never agree to a unilateral ceasefire.
Even during the mutually binding ceasefire, our armed struggle would stay in place i.e. we would still maintain our camps, our fighters, our equipment and training facilities, the bulk of which are outside the borders of our country.
The suggestion here, therefore, is that in the present atmosphere of detente, we could offer to hold back armed action against the regime. But even this is easier said, and such an offer would obviously be for certain situations only. Many unprovoked instances of police violence occur frequently in which many lives of our people are lost. Right wing violence, both Black and White, has been unleashed with a sudden vengeance and ferocity. Our people cannot bare themselves to attacks without a fight. They must defend themselves. They must take the war to the warmongers. Umkhonto we Sizwe, as defenders of the people, cannot stand by and watch. It must punish the perpetrators of this death and destruction.
Despite the bold steps taken by de Klerk, the situation is still far from normalising. Apartheid, the root cause of all our ills, is still in place. Nor is the reform process irreversible. The possibility of a right-wing inspired coup cannot be discounted. There is great resentment, even in influential circles of the NP about curtailed influence of the military and the admittance by the government of the firm bond within the ANC/SACP alliance that saw Cde J.S. included in the ANC delegation despite their initial objections.
Even De Klerk's own vision of a changed South Africa and how we proceed to achieve it, despite the radical changes that he has instituted, is nothing but a sophisticated brand of apartheid against which we are justified to continue to struggle.
We may bargain away some of our means of struggle in the give and take that may result in negotiations. But we should not bail out the regime from the major cause of the crises it is facing - the masses in action. We as a movement have very little else to rely on. Our people are our main bastion. Their struggle and sacrifices are the main reason why the regime is been to negotiate with us.
Our movement can therefore not move away from its militant tradition before there is fundamental change in our society. Before apartheid is dead and buried.
What happened recently in Welkom is instructive. The militancy of our people is not only forcing the regime but also the right-wing gangs to contend with the power of our militant peaceful protest.
We therefore cannot talk about moving away from mobilisation to organisation as though these were variously solid and gaseous states. The organisation and continued mobilisation of our people must proceed simultaneously and with equal zest. And we must increasingly place before them the slogans which firmly address the question of power - the demand for an Interim Government to supervise and guide the process towards the election of a Constituent Assembly.
"The masses are the insurance that the regime will proceed with haste to formulate a solution that will take our country beyond apartheid. Only the militant masses rallying around a militant ANC that dutifully pursues their interests and agitates them into action against repression and tyranny will ensure that those locked in dialogue proceed with haste to address the problems of the land. The interlocutors should be charged to urgency by the din of the masses outside banging doors and demanding immediate redress.
This is no time for temporising with the regime. The ANC should lead the masses in a massive, disciplined but resolute and final active protest against the policies of the Nats.
Our re-entry into the legal political arena should aim not just at galvanizing support for our policies and netting membership which will make us the biggest formal opposition to the racist regime. It should be to spur these organized masses to march in struggle at the head of all the anti-apartheid forces.
Harmful trends have begun to appear of people within our ranks trying to outdo each other for moderation in the mass media. Our reasonableness and our commitment to peaceful change and, even to negotiations should never be construed as a signal to the masses to end protest and struggle against their oppression.
This process must in fact intensify a hundred fold. If conditions have been created for open and peaceful pursuit of political change, nothing should inhibit the strongest possible expression of militancy by the masses of the oppressed. We can never bargain away our right to protest.
We should of course call for discipline. The new situation calls for a responsible blend of discipline and militancy. We have pledged to observe the spirit and letter of the Groote Schuur Minute.
But only by our active participation and presence in peoples protests and struggles will we ensure that acts of anarchy, vandalism and provocation, are brought to a minimum.
Those of us who make a habit of appearing to attempt appeasement run the risk of being spurned by the masses and overtaken by events. Our masses are our greatest hope.
We should not assist in allowing the impression to be created that the regime is in firm control and calling the shots. De Klerk wants to look very much like "the man of the moment."
Comrade Jean: Organising a Legal Party
DATE[90/05/22] 42 AVOCO, EFFINGHAM, DURBAN 1
ORGANISING A LEGAL PARTY TOWARDS 8TH PARTY CONGRESS IN 1991 Discussion led by Comrade Jean
Let's hope that from this session onwards, we address those immediate and practical issues even more. This topic covers a very big area. I feel and want to approach this question in terms of short term requirements. Long term requirements we can pay attention to in due course before even the 8th Congress, but in the coming months we are talking about short term questions. In particular these are: the launch of our Party and the process of consultation within and outside our Party that are necessary to bring this about; what are the initial structures and priorities; how do we create a constituency; going public. Then we are able to get to a transition period from which we can arrive at a situation where we can move from having an external HQ and leadership to situating ourselves back at home. We need to proceed with great urgency. It is quite a few months ago that FW made his announcement to legalise the party - 4 months ago. A number of statements of the Party have been issued since: there is the first issue of Umsebenzi this year which talks of the need for the creation of an internal leadership core - so we were committed to such a course at that state. Again in the opening of this meeting we heard the message from the PB which sets out the question of establishing and internal interim leadership (quote) and that we are asked to make practical recommendations. What we must look at are the careful preparations but also we have to prioritise what must be done at this stage.. In addition to the load we now carry - of launching the party in the legal conditions - we also have to consider that the Central Committee has planned to hold the 8th Party Congress on 31 July 1991 a little over 12 months away. If we succeed in meeting that obligation and organising historic occasion, this requires of us the need to have fully-fledged branches and structures operating, which will discuss and elect delegates to attend that Congress. So 12 months is not long. My first recommendation is that we ensure the fullest possible consultation and that this in the first place concentrates on consulting with the underground units of the party. Following this there is a need to evaluate and begin a process of consultation with our allies. This process has already begun for example the momentous meeting between COSATU which took place in Harare and also this meeting itself which also involved, in the preparations before the meeting, consultations with the underground. We have also begun to consult within the different regional structures. Perhaps it was easier to get such contribution from the Natal area as we were holding this meeting in the region. It is a little unfortunate that we only recently acquired this input but units here have done themselves proud in tackling this question. We should not regard the consultation process as being over. We need to examine how to take it further and deepen it. One suggestion comes from one of the u-g structures of the Party here which recommends that we take the consultation process to the mass level, to the mass organisations at both local and national level to assess how activists view this process of the Party's emergence. Our considerations here must also relate to the question of the leadership core. The characteristics are that it should be internal and interim; from the process of launch until the different regional structures and district committee are formed and elect representatives to a Congress. But this body is also a leadership. As such it has a role to give guidance and lead. Though being an interim group and appointed group to help create conditions for future structures it may be augmented by the CC members from abroad. Unlike the ANC such a leadership group should not simply be composed just of convenors from different areas to see to setting up branches. It also means a leadership that should provide guidance and speak on behalf of the Party. We meet to consider the appearance of a group of Party leaders. It will be the first appearance for a great many years of such a leadership aside from a few individuals who have publicly been identified as Party leaders. Therefore what is vital is that such a leadership commands the respect and confidence of our people and reflects the social base that we strive for; the bias towards the working class and the African working class in particular, a bias towards trade unions; it must reflect non-racialism and our commitment to the gender question. But we must not assure this composition on the basis of token individuals. Emphasis must be on ability. I suggest a number of between 10 -12 people, whose role will be to link with the external leadership and to create a base for launching the Party. It would need a chairperson and a secretary. There should also be some initial structures to assist with these tasks: for example, a sub-committee of finances and fundraising so that comrades become self-reliant; a propaganda sub-committee; an education and research committee;. and a security organ - which is vital as the others. Initially it would be limited. In time we can look at the question of a fully-fledged counter-intelligence setup. However even now it is essential that our leadership is protected, our offices secured and that we have ways to secure ourselves against infiltration and provocateurs. The question I am throwing out here in the context of these subcommittees is should the organisation of branches be handled by an organisational subcommittee or and organisational secretary. These sub-committee should consist of about 3-5 people manning each. In relation to the building of branches and structures we would have to look at the question of building districts. Here we already need to prioritise. We should start our initial structures in the main industrial centres and I would propose that we have 3 such committees in the PWV area - Johannesburg, West Rand and East Rand and we establish districts in our other key major cities: Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Bloemfontein. But I feel that this needs a lot of discussion.
In the time allowed I cannot deal fully with the question of the Party in the rural areas, but I feel that we should give priority at this stage to the urban areas. The creation of these districts should not simply be organisations from the top. The u-g comrades, activists and our allies should be consulted also at the regional level. District Committees should proceed to build branches and there is the question of whether these should be mostly residential or industrial branches. There has been some debate about this issue about whether or not there should be industrial branches. I feel in our situation we need both industrial and residential branches to promote the policy and propaganda about the Party role, programme and so on. Such comrades in these Party structures should be loyal Party members and as such should participate in the trade unions and the ANC and would have to know how to safeguard the integrity of trade unions, be able to popularise the programme among the community, to engage in recruitment and be at forefront of local struggles. Without wanting to repeat from previous sessions the question of opening up membership means that we will need to work out some Guidance on party recruitment. Recruitment for us must be based on more than getting members who simple support the policy. They should not only accept the party programme and aims but also the strategy and tactics. Because otherwise individuals may be part of the party as a result of support for long term aims but do not accept the means advocated by the party e.g. in terms of our alliance. (At present it is possible to be a member of the ANC without having supported the armed struggle) A party member should also contribute subscriptions worked out as income related-subs; and added to this should be the preparedness of the member to be a Party activist not just in the mass and national organisations but also in the Party itself. And that members need to accept a degree of discipline and accountability. This would need to be added to the activist concept we talked of in the earlier session which would ensure that the party, the party of activists, would have no contradiction to be both a mass and a vanguard party. The size of the vanguard party would be limited by the number who would be prepared to abide by these conditions and would prevent us from being overwhelmed by tides of well meaning enthusiasts. It would be a party however whose impact would reach out to the millions; a party of activists that serves the people and is with the people; a party that would need to account to the people and we need to find ways of doing this. We have been discussion the kinds of crises of socialism and need for comrades and a party of a new type. If we use this activists criteria, it makes it impossible for careerists and opportunists from joining; it eliminates Party czars and barons and frees us from the tyranny of the armchair theoreticians; it rules out the bureaucrats. The launch should not rely on adverts, but on mass rallies of the kind that we suggested in the earlier session. The national launch needs to be addressed by the General Secretary and Comrade Mandela should be invited as a guest speaker; there should be a galaxy of comrades from the MDM; and there should be foreign invitees to launch the "Communist Party Interim Leadership Group" (CPILG). The launch would need to project the independent role of the party and its role in the alliance. Time is of the essence. I feel that the most favourable date upon which to launch the Party would be on our 69th Anniversary 30/7/90. That is basically two months away. It would really be the most apt occasion (and this is an occasion which in any case we would be expected to mark). But on this question I am asking for consideration from this meeting: is it feasible to think of a mass rally in Johannesburg - an outdoor rally - in two months time? Will it be possible for us in that period to have our interim leadership such that it can be announced there. I will end with this note: that an immense effort is required on how to transform the immense potential for our Party into a reality; but it is something that must be done soon.
Comrade CD: ANC-SACP-COSATU Alliance
The Party has stood guard over working class aspirations in the inter-class Alliance. And this is combined with a gut feeling that the Party, by its very nature, is more likely to be less compromising in dealings with the regime and in the choice of development options.
All these factors will assume even greater importance in the immediate period ahead as a result of two inter-dependent factors:
1) The ANC undoubtedly WILL remain the overall head of what will, for some time to come, be correctly described as a liberation alliance. For some time after a people's victory and certainly in the immediate aftermath of people's power, our perspectives will obviously be dominated by the need to consolidate the liberation process. But, as time goes on, the Alliance may well be widened. In the process, the folw of the organized working class constituency within the Alliance will remain, if anything, more imperative.
2) The ANC itself will inevitably grow in leaps and bounds attracting previous vacillating, unreliable and even collaborating elements from the middle sections. This may be unavoidable because it would be incorrect in any way to change the inter-class character of the ANC and its character as a mass movement. A considerable portion of these elements will be career-orientated elements or will, by virtue of their class background, try to steer the ANC itself away from its working class bias towards solutions which favour the interests of the bourgeoisie.
In brief, the inevitable sharpening of the inter=class ideological contest, both in the run up to victory and in its immediate aftermath, requires as a matter of life or death the consolidation and growth of organized working class political and industrial power. From their longer term point of view the need to create conditions for an involvement towards socialism, will be frustrated without working class organized power.
There are many signs on the ground that if we fail to meet all these needs the vacuum will be filled by others. Many groups are waiting in the wings. Their growth – if our independent force and strength is not asserted – have the most serious consequences not only for us but for the future of the ANC as a revolutionary nationalist organization. All these realities present us with a number of short-term and long-term complexities at both political and organizational levels.
In the political sphere we need to note the following:
a) We must not take the alliance for granted. Already there has been murmurs from a small group of ANC cadres which suggest some confusion about the role of the Party in the new legal conditions. For example, during a recent discussion at the NEC on the phasing out of SACTU, one or two NEC members suggested that the role of the Party in the new conditions ought also to be considered. It is therefore not enough for us to rely on the past. We need to spread a more profound understanding about the future rolw of the party both in the developing situation and in the post apartheid phase. Media questions have been addressed to party representatives on issues such as what are our expectations in relation to future elections. Will the party have an internal arrangement with the ANC or will it field its own candidates either in opposition to other political groups or by virtue of some electoral pact with the ANC? We consider these questions speculative and premature but they nevertheless do point to a recognition that the Alliance will operate in a completely new context.
In the post-apartheid phase the choice of the path will no longer remain predomi9nantly a theoretical disputation. The questions of develop0ment options will call for a practical decision. Although we have already publicly committed ourselves to a mixed economy in the immediate post apartheid phase this perspective does not in itself dispose of the question of whether it will be a mixed economy with a capitalist orientation or one with a socialist orientation.
b) We have always insisted on our dual role – as an independent political organization and as part of the Alliance. What new balance must be involved in these two imperatives? Is there a need to re-examine the shape of the Alliance in the new conditions? For example, comrades, these questions suggest themselves in relation to the existing prospects of negotiations. We should undoubtedly work to ensure that the ANC becomes the umbrella at the eventual negotiating table. This implies that various patriotic interest groups become an identifiable part of the ANC-led negotiating team. This was recently raised by COSATU comrades at the May 10, Johannesburg Joint Meeting. Do we as a Party insist on some for of independent participation under the umbrella of the ANC? If so, to what extent? In other words can the Party continue to subsume its role and leave it to be implied rather than to be seen as an independent participant? Whatever the future might hold, at the moment the umbrealla concept remains imperative. The time is certainly not ripe for us to have joint delegations at the negotiating table. At the same time – as happened in the Groote Schuur talks – the Party should have a visible presence as part of the ANC delegation. Whilst on this question of negotiations, comrades, we must remain clear about the need not to allow the negotiating process to suffocate the struggle on the ground.
c) As already mentioned if we look slightly further ahead the question will arise of how we fit into any kind of election process. At this point the search for a definite answer is premature. But we must begin to toss it about in our minds.
d) The Alliance has now been recast with the phasing out of SACTU and the inclusion of COSATU. This is more than just a substitution. We can claim that, for the first time since SACTU ceased to be a trade union federation in the real sense of the word we now have an Alliance partner which truly represents the bulk of the organized trade union movement. Without in any way detracting from the tripartite content of the Alliance, there is a need to examine the extent to which the Party and COSATU need a special relationship. It would of course be wrong to institutionalize a separate joint structure. But activities such as the Harare Workshop continue to be in place as long as they are structured in such a way which does not detract from the tripartite Alliance.
e) The rapidly changing situation, both at home and internationally, require us to have another look at our recently adopted Party Programme – "The Path to Power". Certain formulations no longer lie happily alongside such recent developments.
What kind of Party?
It is crystal clear that we have to build a Party of a new type. In addressing this question we must focus not only on the obvious fact that the style of work which was imposed upon us by underground conditions no longer has validity (in many respects), but also on the lessons of the disasters which afflicted so many Communist Parties in the recent period. It is true that our Party can claim some credit for having distanced itself many, many decades ago from some of the worst distortions which manifested themselves in a large slice of the International Communist and Workers Movement. At the same time, we must be conscious of the fact that there have been isolated indications that some of our members and structures still carry some baggage from the past. As we enter the new period we must be on our toes to eradicate all remaining verstiges of Stalinism in our style of work. In short, we must find ways of coping with the heritage created in the old conditions and infected by old thinking.
a) be more vigilant than ever against all remains of sectarianism, arrogance or elitism.
b) not mechanically reject those socialists who, in the past, expressed genuine reservations about some of our policies or practices. We need to concede that some of these criticisms were not completely unfounded.
c) In the new period, make a clean break with those limitations on inner-democracy and accountability which underground life and the drawbacks of exile imposed upon us.
d) Above all, ensure that our role as vanguard of the working class must be one of democratic mobilization and should not be imposed. Our party has no inherent right to claim the leadership of our class. That leadership must be won by gaining acceptance for our open policies and should not be based on a claim of right.
e) While working to win a primary place as political leader of the working class, accept political pluralism both now, for the post-apartheid phase and in the period of socialist construction.
Comrade Maggie: Party Mobilization of Women
Party Mobilisation of Women - Particularly Working Class Women
Introduced by Comrade Maggie:
Comrades, I am not centrally involved in the organisation of women but through SACTWU I do work a great deal with women workers as a large part of the union's focus is on women workers. But this is not a collective position.
One of weaknesses generally when we address the different sectors of the population, is that while we give most individual sectors specific attention, when it comes to women this is low on agenda in normal situations (I don't mean that in the sense of this agenda). And this problem needs to be addressed. Around 50% of our population is made up of women and we need to have organisation in this sector. Although women are this large a number we don't see that reflected in representation and participation in our organisation - at any level of participation. Historically we have tended not to develop this. Now we need to work out ways to have women asserting themselves. But this is not a women's but a collective problem. And education needs to be done on both sides.
At the level also of ourselves as individual we need to look at how we relate to women and this problem and especially where we don't find them playing the import role they should. We have to think of this also when we organise women or around issues that especially affect women. It is not just things like transport problems but also families. We don't take this into account. We must provide the space and timing for the organisation of this sector. Also I think we must comment and criticise the fact that the organisation of women generally tends to be delegated to women.
Although we in our organisations argue that the reason for women organising women is because they are part of constituency the effect that it has had is to take away the problem from everyone. There is no national women's structure that is really mass based. At this point women's organisations could only possibly be described as organisations of activists. The type of women organisations which have large grouping are in the type or organisation which deals more with social aspects and cultural aspects. We need to look whether we try too soon to be too political and try to impose our views.
If we have a particular idea of organisation we tend to bring into the organisation people who fit into that idea. Maybe we have to look first at where they are at. Maybe we need to set aside a comrades to organise this sector fulltime. We don't have enough comrades from the party in trade union movement to handle this alone and so we have to rely on comrades in the mass structures to assist. But this leads to uneven developments because some of these comrades are advanced and some not.
At the Cosatu level their whole organisation of women is not systematic. There is not a separate structure to focus on the issues relating to women. But at the same time is has become the norm to put questions relating to women on the table: demands have led to real victories. But the way we do this needs to be examined. At no point do we involve the women in the process of struggle so that they do not feel it as their issue. We lose the whole educational capaign and the activity is not mass activity. Victories are won on behalf of the constituency but the constituency itself is not mobilised. We need to reexamine this.
Some sectors are also difficult to for unions to organise women worker eg domestic workers because of their circumstances. But this is something that must be fed into the mass structures - through them it would really facilitate the unions tackling this sector. We must approach it in a different way from other union work.
But it we look at something like SACTWU. Largest part of this sector is made up of women. But this is not reflected in the national structure. There are two women at national level. At the regional level it is the same so we are not preparing women for national level. And even when we have women, the role of the women is more a matter of taking a leadership postion but not asserting leadership.
There is a severe lack of leadership skills and we need to develop this. Unions themselves are not doing this but here the party could play its role. Women lack confidence and debating skills. Those who are more articulate tend to take over. This does not only apply to women workers but to women in general. Sometimes there are problems with this because some women who play leading roles have tended to alienate the large number of women.
There is great potential for women to take place in mass activity but this has not been around a specific campaign to get women per se involved and I think such a campaign would be useful. Women have taken bold steps to remain in townships in areas of violence. We have not grabbed hold of this capacity. The Party has a real problem because of the relatively lower consciousness of women. It is unlikely they would even as readily and easily join the Party as do other things so there is a need for education. We could work on this with the women organisations - the party needs to establish a relationship to run this education programme. There is also an absence of education within Cosatu on this issue. Maybe the party could also assist in this regard but this should be properly sorted out and should not result in a creation of problems.
When we look at the organisation of women workers, women workers are not a homogenous group. African workers are generally more receptive due to their personal experiences. Indian and coloured workers come out of conservative (TUCSA) unions. SACTWU is formed and this is their background. So we must also take this into account.
Education and how the question of the organisational gap within the union is something in which the party could intervene. But this is the type of thing that must be worked out with the union (SACTWU), especially seeing that women would be accessible to the party not only at work but also in the residential areas.
Tax, childcare, education, status of women re the law - these are all important mobilising issues. But there is a tendency on the part of our activists to shy away from the mobilisation of women often because of involvement in so many other structures. And therefore I am advocating that we appoint cdes to this area of work specifically. When we set up I think we need to bear in mind given the question of the timing factor that maybe the residential branches are better. Another thing we could examine is the question of the Women's Charter and collect demands and popularise this as a major campaign. There is a Workers' Charter campaign but the question of women workers could also be involved in a Women's Charter. It could also involve women in the rural areas, the issue of the family and the issue of land - this could be a basis for mobilisation also in those areas.
I have a problem that we need to have a programme which revolves around the education of males as well, so that they understand this. It is wrong for the campaign to become the domain of women. Education is a two-way process. Also I want to add a note of concern: there are problems within women's structures because of certain issues some of these organisations are focusing on, like militant feminism and this alienates many women. We must consciously guard against this in fact we must stamp it out. In the unions there are problematic women who advocate this. I was asked to say something on this in relation to the role of the individual party member: firstly, in the setting up these things we have to look at who. It must be party members who must be able to recruit so as to provide us with the personnel to widely recruit and campaign. That would have to be one of our mechanisms - as a quick way. Through this we would be able to extend a unity and cohesion generally with the local and democratic organisations through the women to their respective
1) WELCOME BY CHAIRPERSON - introducing the following sub-items (5 minutes):
(a) Special briefing (30 minutes)
(b) Standing orders, finalisation of agenda; appointment of Standing Committees (20 minutes)
2) MESSAGE FROM THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE
3) CHAIRPERSON'S OPENING REMARKS (20 minutes)
4) EMERGENCE OF THE LEGAL PARTY
(i) CHALLENGE FACING THE PARTY (20 minute intro + discussion)
* prospects for negotiated resolution; regime's agenda; our perspectives;
* the crisis facing socialism
(ii) PARTY OF A NEW TYPE (20 minute intro + discussion)
* vanguard/mass party
* internal democracy and accountablity
* public accountablity
* working with fraternal organisations
(iii) ORGANISING A LEGAL PARTY TOWARDS THE 8th CONGRESS 1991 (20 minute intro + discussion)
* its public face - national and regional
* guidelines for recruitment and membership
* consolidating and activating its membership
* party education
* role of individual party member
* financial self-reliance - prospects & potentials
(iv) PARTY PROPAGANDA (20 minute intro + discussion)
* Umsebenzi - perspectives for making it internally based; distribution; how to make Umsebenzi both agitational and organisational; production and finance; frequency.
* AC - do we need to change its image and if so to what? Making it into an organ of thorough-going and open socialist debate;writing and producing it on the ground - possiblities?
Production and financing.
5) ANC-SACP-COSATU ALLIANCE (20 minute intro + discussion)
a) Formalising and strengthening the alliance - perspectives
b) The role of the individual party member vis-a-vie the ANC, individual trade unions and Cosatu as well as all grassroots organisations
c) Priorities in terms of the current stage of struggle; ensuring the relationship between the role of the masses and aspects such as talks and negotiations.
6) PARTY MOBILISATION AND ORGANISATION OF WOMEN - with particular regard to working women (20 minute intro + discussion)
7) A PRELIMINARY RE-LOOK AT "THE PATH TO POWER" - in the context of current developments (20 minute intro + discussion)
8) REPORTBACK FROM RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE
9) CLOSING REMARKS BY CHAIRPERSON
42 AVOCO, EFFINGHAM, DURBAN 1
List of invitees to miniconference as at 7 May. Attendance still
to be confirmed.
1) Ndobe (convenor *)
2) Rachael (*)
3) Marsha (*)
4) Jean (*)
5) Ntaba (*)
6) Theo (*)
8) Peter M.
13) Sam (?)
19) Thami M.
20) Delegate from Lobby C-C
22) Mike Xego
24) Maggie (?)
That sakes a total of 26 so far.
[(*) = attend pre-conf. session]
L = tiara
MS = Mpho Scott
J = Joe
CC = Cheryl Caroulos SM = Sydney Mafumadi
BN = B i'l] ONeto
G = Ronnie Kasrils MV = Mohammed Valli SA = Sandy Africa R = Raymond
KD jsa DTm` ni
MG = Morgan Govender LO = Lionel October CD = i't'D1 amvi rti
MM = Mac Maharaj = Murray Mitchel
GM = Govan Mbeki
PG = Pravin Gordhan
RM = Raymond Mlaba = ill
ST1MAY dd 90.04.27
Cliff = Cliffie Collings Charm = Charm Govender Shoots = Shoots Naidoo Cas =
Ravi (from Phoenix) = Das = Dassie Chetty Jits iPPat LF
Moe (Ali) =
Siva (Merebank) = Siva Chetty
Rishi (Chats) =
Kubesh (mbnk) _
Jurie (Chats) =
Salina = Salina Pillay Sagie (Tongaat) =
Suraya = Suraya Jacobs Vani = Vanita Raju Claudia = Claudia Manning
Trevor = Pravin Gordhan Susan = Tshabalala
Mac: Opening remarks
This meeting should have been opened by Comrade RM, who was asked by our PB to act as convenor. While he has played a central role in the preparations, the doctors have insisted that he take a complete rest. He is therefore unable to be present to address you, to participate with you in our deliberatons and to see the fruits of the efforts that he has put into making this Conference a reality. Comrade Ray sends his best wishes to Conference and his apologies for his absence.
We already have before us the message from the General Secretary on behalf of the PB. It sets out in a comprehensive manner the basic direction in which we should be moving in order to firmly occupy the legal space that has opened up for our Party. I do not wish to repeat any other points raised in the message from the PB except to personally associate myself with the contents of that message. It is the central task of this meeting to give practical content to the message from our General Secretary. Without inhibiting any discussions around the content of that message, I would urge Conference throughout its deliberations to firmly keep in mind that it is our desire that we emerge from this Conference with a set of practical recommendations which will enable the Central Committee of our Party to develop a strategy and a plan of action for the emergence of our Party in the legal terrain within our country.
It is necessary to briefly locate the objectives of this Consultative Conference within a larger context. Forty years of the sixty)nine years of the existence of our Party have been spent under illegal conditions. The regime's decision to unban the ANC and our Party; to engage in a process of discussions with the ANC; and its acceptance of the presence of the General Secretary of our Party in the ANC delegation in the face of the firm position of the ANC that the ANC-SACP Alliance will not be abandoned whatever the pressure from the regime ) this has created a new situation.
Against the backdrop of the possibilities of a negotiated resolution, there can be no question that the current climate holds immense potential for a significant advance of our struggle. At the same time, it is common cause amongst the democratic forces of our country that the situation is complex, requires immense creativity and tactical flexibility on the part of the people's forces and is fraught with grave dangers.
The regime is no longer a free agent: No longer can it freely impose its will on our people and the world community. The illegitimate rulers of our country recognise that they cannot continue to rule in the old way. But it remains a matter of fine analysis as to whether they have woken to the realisation that they cannot perpetuate, under whatever disguise, the continuation of racial minority rule. It is an open secret that their continued adherence to 'group rights' is but a thin veil to maintain white privilege. It is an open secret that, ,in their effort to diffuse the unrelenting pressure of the liberation struggle, the regime's decision to unban both the ANC and the Party carries with it their dream to break up the Alliance, to splinter the ANC and to destroy the Party. It is not without significance that even as they unbanned our Party they continue to maintain a host of security laws which firmly circumscribe and illegalise many areas of the freedom of the Party to conduct practical work amongst our people.
Whatever its intentions, it is as clear to us in the liberation movement that the steps that the regime has been forced to take will only be rendered irreversible by the actions of our people and the supporters of our struggle in the international community. In this regard, the unbanning of our organisations and the undiminished spirit of defiance and resistance of our people have brought to the forefront an enhanced capacity by the liberation forces to render these changes not only irreversible but to engulf the regime in a process of adjustments which it will be unable to control.
We are therefore meeting at a conjuncture in our struggle where the establishment of the ANC as the mass movement of our people, the rooting of our Party in the black working class and the radical youth, the shaping and strengthening of the ANC Party/COSATU Alliance, must become the primary focus of our activity. In short, in the case of the Party, whatever the hedges the regime has maintained for itself, it has become our prime duty to ensure that our Party firmly occupies and widens the legal space that has opened up.
We meet here today as part of the process of consultations that the Party has been engaged in to ensure that our emergence in this legal space takes place in a systematic and planned way; that, through such consultation, the Party will be able to equip itself with a clear direction as to its path in the immediate and long term. This meeting may well be seen in hindsight as a culmination of the process of consultations.
We have lived, survived and struggled for almost forty years in conditions of illegality and unending repression. All the might of the State, all its dirty tricks and techniques even those outlawed by the international community, have been marshaled against us in order to physically annihilate the Party and obliterate the vision of a socialist society in which the humanity and the individual personality of humankind will truly flourish. Under these conditions we have had to wage a brutal struggle. We have had to devise techniques and engage in practices which could ensure not only our survival but keep us in the forefront of the defence of our people and in the battle for freedom. We are where we are precisely because we have proven ourselves an indestructible force.
Our emergence into the legal space takes place at a time when the cause of socialism has been severely dented by the experience of building socialism in many parts of the world. We live in a world where those who thrive by the exploitation of man by man jubilantly proclaim the demise of the ideals of socialism; where the mistakes of communists are being presented as proof of the destruction of the dream of all working people.
We who come from the depths of the underground struggle, who have been tempered in the furnace of battle, come into a world where our Party enjoys an almost mythical esteem in the eyes of the oppressed people of our country. To carry with us the dedication and commitment that characterised our underground existence; to meet the challenges of living within the glare of this public adulation and unrelenting public scrutiny; to unlearn some of the practices that were shaped by our underground life forced upon us by white rule, is an immense challenge.
To emerge into a world where what we do in our country, how we do it and the way in which we conduct ourselves in today's context where the vision of socialism is claimed to be invalid, makes the challenge even greater.
This challenge we accept because we are equipped not only with our achievements, but also with our failures: because as communists impelled by the vision of the triumph of humankind, we have an unlimited potential to learn from our mistakes. We who have been assembled here today therefore carry a grave responsibility of ensuring by the way in which we engage in these deliberations and by the nature of the solutions that emerge from these deliberations, that our Party is on the road towards transforming this potential into an actuality.
Our views, the views expressed at this meeting will take special place in the forthcoming deliberations of the Central Committee which is expected to take definitive and concrete decisions as to how our Party re-emerges to occupy the legal space which has opened up. We cannot emphasise sufficiently the need for our discussions to be concrete and practical. In this way our recommendations can inform the Central Committee with a better understanding of the pulse of our people and ensure that the re)emergence is done in a way which creates a momentum that will ensure that our Party is firmly rooted in the black working class, militant youth and the small but growing band of radical intellectuals that our struggle has given birth to.
Comrades, we meet at a time of great expectations, when the possibilities for freedom are greater than ever before. The fact that we meet in conditions of total clandestinity, that this is and must remain a secret conference, that each of us have to guard zealously the identities of those present, is a salutary antidote to any euphoria about the road ahead. I have been instructed to inform you that any person presently in the room who violates this rule invites the strictest possible and summary disciplinary measures. Present here are a number of comrades from the outside who have the regime's permission to be within the country. Their presence should not lead anyone to assume that all who are amongst us today, fall into the same category. There are some whose presence is unknown to the regime and we must do everything possible to guard against the regime's picking up even the slightest rumour that they are inside the country. Furthermore depending on the course of developments some of these illegals may surface on the instructions of our organisation. Even when this happens you have to ensure that no one becomes aware that these individuals were at any time illegally in the country.
Comrades, we have a long and weighty agenda before us which we must attend to with all the seriousness that is required of us. The outcome of our deliberations is sought by our Central Committee with great earnestness. Let us begin our work.