About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Report

Report of the Political Bureau to the conference

REPORT OF THE POLITICAL BUREAU ON BEHALF OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE TO THE INTERNAL CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE

1) The ANC undoubtably 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 ideological contest, both in the run up to victory and 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 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 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. It is 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 represent-atives 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.

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 pre-dominantly a theoretical disputation. The questions of development 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.

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.

We must:

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.

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, 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, 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 and more and more seek ways of making the masses feel that they 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 'cabal' 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 organizations 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 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.

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!"

Report of the Internal Consultative Conference

DRAFT REPORT OF INTERNAL CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY.

1. INTRODUCTION

2. CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE

2.1 - CHALLENGES WE FACE

2.2 - EMERGENCE OF WHAT TYPE OF PARTY

2.3 - CONTEXT WITHIN WHICH WE EMERGE

2.4 - REVOLUTIONARY ALLIANCE

2.5 - OUR COMPOSITION & WOMEN WORKERS

2.6 - PATH TO POWER

3. CONCLUSION

1. INTRODUCTION

Since the announcement of the unbanning of the South African Communist Party on February 2nd, the question of the Party's re-emergence as a legal organisation has been occupying the attention of our Party at all levels.

This is not a simple question given that the Party has been outlawed for 40 out of the 69 years of its existence; that laws such as the Suppression of Communism Act and the Internal Security Act are still in operation; and that many of our leaders have not been able to freely enter the country. It also arises at a time when communists throughout the world, in confronting distortions in the construction of socialism, need to subject themselves and their Parties to rigorous critical appraisal and change.

Given that our Party's occupation of the legal space must be seen in the context of on-going mass democratic organisation and activity, the Party leadership set in motion a process of consultation: with the Party underground structures; in Party Branches and with our constituency; through bilateral talks with our allies; in a series of discussions between our General Secretary and leading members of different organisations. As part of this process, an important consultative conference of the South African Communist Party was held inside South Africa.

2. CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE

The holding of the internal consultative conference provided a unique opportunity for members from various parts of South Africa to come together and collectively address the issues. Comrades who have all been members of underground Party structures came from the major industrial areas of our country. It brought together the practical experience of members who are currently engaged in the organisation of trade unions, women, youth and civics and comrades involved in the re-establishment of the legal ANC. Assembled at the meeting, were comrades from every generation of struggle including some Central Committee members. The average age of the participants was just under 40 years.

Conference discussed key questions, with conscious effort to make concrete recommendations around numerous issues. A number of papers were presented.

What made conference particularly noteworthy was the active involvement of the participants in all items on the agenda and the positive and comradely spirit that prevailed throughout.

From the outset, the tone of the meeting was set with the reading of the message from our Central Committee. It not only posed fundamental questions of theory, strategy and tactics, but it raised a host of practical and organisational aspects which need to be addressed. In a concise, open and self-critical way,, it posed questions concerning the immediate period ahead within context of the current situation nationally and internationally, while simultaneously provoking thought about longer-term strategy and always holding in view our ultimate objective of bringing about a truly democratic and humane socialist society.

2.1. CHALLENGES WE FACE:

MESSAGE FROM THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE TO THE INTERNAL CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE

"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 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 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 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 ellectoral 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.

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 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.

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.

We must:

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 criticism were not completely unfounded.

c) in the new period, make a clean break with those limitations on inner-democracy and accountablity 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 publically 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.

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!

2.2 WHAT TYPE OF PARTY?

In view of the fact that the Central Committee had decided that the 8th Congress will be convened at home in July 1991 on the 70th Anniversary of the founding of our Party, there was consensus about the need for the Party to officially launch itself so as to be able to begin to create the structures to enable this Congress to be both representative and democratic. Conference made specific recommendations as the when and how the Party should be launched within the next few months.

Yet, while the occupation by the Party of the legal space which currently exists was the primary focus of the consultations, Conference gave special attention to type of Party that we want to create.

The paper which opened the discussion on the Party of a New Type paved the way for conference to subject ourselves and our organisation to close scrutiny. A combative, challenging start to discussions which also focused attention on the road ahead - the painstaking care with which we need to build a morality and culture amongst ourselves which will enable us to recapture the essence of communism: its humanity and its scientific approach.

Introductory Paper:

PARTY OF A NEW TYPE

"The foundations of a good communist lie on two basic perceptions: the first is rooted in the empathy instinctively felt with the oppressed, with human suffering in any form, and by the desire to alleviate and end such suffering. This above all gives shape to our humanity. The second lies in a scientific appreciation of the laws of motion of society and an understanding which applies the tools of analysis and the outlook of dialectical and historical materialism in our approach any problem.

Without the latter our vision of the future would be but a dream. Without the former our dreams would be devoid of a vision.

It is the intertwining of these two aspects that makes communists such dedicated unrelenting fighters in the cause of humankind, in which our goal is the flowering of the human personality and the realisation of humankind's humanity.

Today more than ever before we are better equipped to understand the relationship of these twin roots of our origins as communists. We cannot talk of a Party of a new type without asserting our vision; without asserting the centrality of the individual.

This is the only path along which the mistakes we have made in our striving to create a better society not for ourselves alone, not for the working class alone, but for every individual ) can be turned into a meaningful reassertion of our vision.

The experience of the striving of oppressed and exploited people to change society is also shaped by the fact that we are not mere visionaries. Communists recognise that it is only if we come together voluntarily to constitute and organisation designed to shape us into a fighting organisation capable of waging war against those who exploit and oppress. Otherwise change in society becomes an accidental phenomenon. Democratic centralism is therefore an irreplaceable element in such a fighting organisation. The principles of democratic centralism give us the flexibility to fashion ourselves according to the needs of the battle against the oppressor and the exploiter,. It is the oppressor and the exploiter who determine the rules of war and yet it is we keep to our principles.

We can never be happy with restricting the democratic rights of ourselves as members of the Communist Party. But the reality is that we have always been willing to diminish those rights to ourselves in order to be able to successfully wage our struggle.

We in South Africa have had to wage 40 years of our struggle in conditions of total clandestinity. Even in this period we have demonstrated a capacity to try to extend inner) Party democracy. But we could never overcome the constraints of illegality. Today when the fruits of struggle has forced our legalisation on the regime, we need to think deeply about inner) Party democracy.

Our Party is not simply a Party of like-minded individuals. It is not a club. As members of the Party each of us as individuals and as part of the collective, commit ourselves to being activists in the struggle. As communists we work for the realisation of a vision where people as a people take their destiny into their own hands.

So our democracy and our accountability reside in two planes: we are accountable to each other and within the Party for maintaining our commitment and our activism. But we are also accountable to our people and not just our membership. How are we to achieve this?

One thing we know we cannot talk about people's power unless we are prepared to place ourselves before the judgment of the people.

If the people's judgment condemns an individual member he/she stands condemned before the Party. We cannot defend such a member save that we can try to help the member refashion his/her views and conduct.

We need to combat the attitude that proclaims our existence as a vanguard of the working class without considering anything that we as a Party need to do to earn such a place.

We need to undo the arrogance that has been allowed to develop amongst us - namely that our position as Party members entitles us to be above the inner) democracy of other organisations to which we belong (something the General Secretary has said is that we cannot afford to be a broederbond in other organisations); the autocratic approach which says that we will manipulate as a group from within rather than working to persuade, convince and raise the consciousness of those who disagree. We need to combat that approach.

We need despise the conceit which gives rise to those who rely on "laying down the line"; who do not listen and learn but dictate instead.

Such decrees, arrogance and conceit have never been a part of our Party's principles or of the practice it has accepted. And yet such conduct (if we are to truly examine ourselves with honesty) is to be found in our ranks and it must be rooted out.

The message of our Central Committee has clearly highlighted that our struggle has now entered a phase characterised by a sharpening of the contest of ideas and ideologies. We cannot hope to measure up to this challenge if the ideas we put forward as a Party are not put to the test of rigorous debate amongst ourselves. So that what emerges from that debate is the result now only of our collective wisdom but simultaneously equips us to engage in the contest with other ideas.

Above all we need to recognise that the way we conduct ourselves today determines the shape of society tomorrow and our role in that society. The vanguard role of the Party places on us a heavy responsibility. Just as it is not won by proclaiming ourselves vanguard, so too we have to continue to earn and re)earn that place. We cannot expect our worthy past to give us any special rights to the present and the future save that which we continually earn by our practice.

In determining the direction we take as a Party of a new type we need to ask ourselves what do we mean when we say we are a vanguard Party? Does vanguardism imply exclusivity? Or is it compatible with a mass party? And if we are to be a vanguard Party how do we render ourselves accountable both for what we do both within the Party and outside the Party? How do we render ourselves accountable within primary grassroots organisations, within the trade unions, within fraternal organisations? These are questions that cannot be answered by means of some edict from the Party leadership. They are questions we need to debate amongst ourselves. They are questions for which we need to develop answers. Above all we must be able to justify those answers to friend and foe alike. As communists we have never had a hidden agenda. Our detractors have always sought to taint us with this stigma. Now that we are on the eve of emerging as a legal Party we need to develop a position where we are able to take the offensive to remove that stigma once and for all.

At our 7th Congress last year we adopted the "Path to Power" as the Programme of our Party in the current phase of struggle for national democracy. In that Programme we adopted a clear position with regards to our understanding of our Party as a vanguard Party. That statement was based on the assumption of our illegality. While we fully support the outlook in the programme we need to reexamine it in the context of our unbanning and in the context of the immense potential to make our Party a mass Party. While the Programme correctly focuses on inner)Party democracy and the need for us as communists to subject ourselves totally to the internal democracy of whatever organisation we serve in outside of the Party, we would suggest here that in the new conditions we also need also to bring into focus our public accountability to our constituencies as well as the central fact that our vanguardism derives from our commitment when we join the Party to fashion ourselves as ACTIVISTS in every field of struggle. When we say we want to emerge as a Party of a new type we need to be absolutely clear amongst ourselves what we mean by this. When we say we want and we have to reassert the vision of socialism we need not only proclaim a platform but to demonstrate our adherence to that platform by our practice. In this regard we should never fear that as communists we are our own harshest critics; as communists, we have the tools to learn from our experience of struggle. We can therefore justly say we have the greatest potential to correct mistakes and to meet the challenge of our time. However this inherent potential is meaningless unless we transform it into a capacity.

There were a number of aspects of this paper around which conference felt needed further debate - for example on the questions of internal democracy and accountability. Although in the subsequent discussion about Party structures, these issues were looked at in terms of, for example, the Party rules; it was nonetheless felt that the Party is obliged to be accountable in a broader sense. How we account to the working class and to our people is more difficult to answer in practical terms.

On the question of a mass party, there was broad consensus that the key thing to "mass" and "vanguard" is that the Party we seek to create will not be a Party of supporters and spectators but A PARTY OF ACTIVISTS not only in other organisations but in the building of the Party itself. With this perspective it was felt that there is no conflict between mass Party and vanguard Party. Lively exchange took place around the question of the criteria for membership. Conference recommended to the Central Committee that guidelines for recruitment should be drawn up as soon as possible. The fact that recruitment must be based on acceptance of the Party programme, its rules and its aims is essential. But an additional criterion was argued for, namely that members should also join on the basis of acceptance of the Party's strategy and tactics.

Intertwined with this appraisal of the necessary principles upon which our Party must base itself, were the suggestions and ideas aimed at giving these principles practical content. This aspect of the discussion was initiated by a paper covering the Party's launch, national and regional structures, composition and tasks. Questions relating to the shape of the Party's initial structures, its priorities; how we create a constituency, and so on, were put before conference.

The proposed interim internal leadership contained in the Central Committee message to the meeting was an idea that was strongly endorsed. Much discussion focused on this. The characteristics are that it should be internal and interim; it should exist from the time of launching the Party until the different regional structures, district committees and local branches are formed and elect representatives to the 8th Congress. Though an interim and appointed group, established to help create conditions for future structures, it should be augmented by the CC members from abroad. It should also be able to provide guidance and speak on behalf of the Party.

It will be the first public appearance of a group of Party leaders for a great many years - aside from a few individuals who have held public Party positions). 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 black working class, it must reflect our non-racial composition and our commitment to affirmative action regarding the active participation of women at all levels of the Party. Conference felt that we must ensure this composition is not on the basis of tokenism. Emphasis must be on ability.

It was agreed that the question of finances and resources in organising the launch and in the ensuing building of Party structures needs special attention. Although there were proposals concerning subscriptions - and conference fully endorsed the position that subs should be related to the income/occupation of members - neither this question nor the question of financial self-reliance was looked at in any detail. It was however agreed that to maximise the existing Party resources, the initial phase of building party structures should concentrate on main industrial centres. The need to prioritise in order to more speedily advance was accepted. It was felt that the specific identification of which would be the initial areas should receive further attention.

The question of industry/residentially based branches was raised. But the overwhelming experience of comrades present at the conference was that with few exceptions, for example in the case of migrant hostels, the organisation of branches in the current conditions must be related to where people are living.

Although proposals around the question of what sub-committees should be established under the interim leadership were submitted to the Central Committee, with the exception of propaganda, time did not allow for full examination of the tasks of each of these committees.

Conference was presented with a detailed paper which examined main components of our propaganda and concentrated on drawing the attention of comrades to all the practical aspects of establishing this side of our work.

Amongst others, the following key propaganda functions were identified:

a] be used as an organising tool

b] to educate and activate the masses

c] to agitate

d] to create conditions for human personality development in its fullest to emerge

e] to create a new political culture

Much discussion focused on how we can ensure that Umsebenzi and the AC can fulfill these needs in the process of organising a legal party. In addition, it was felt that we also need to establish a capacity for localised propaganda work. Conference discussed the ways in which our propaganda work will generate some finances. Recommendations on this and the need to explore how this work could be run along commercial business lines were made to the Central Committee. It was strongly felt that our propaganda should generate some income to offset the costs involved in its production.

Umsebenzi has tremendous reputation; its editorial standard was highly praised and conference urged that the standard be maintained. However, production is a problem as it needs to be produced in massive quantities. We will have to transform Umsebenzi from a free publication to a paid publication. Comrades who had recently been involved in the distribution of Umsebenzi to workers indicated that workers will be willing to pay for it.

Conference was unanimous in concluding that the AC needs transformation. The Central Committee was urged to change it into a lively organ of debate. A number of comrades felt that any theoretical journal that is too closely associated with the Party could stifle debate. If intellectuals are interested in socialist debate - whether or not they are in the Party - they should feel welcome to contribute.

Comrades felt that the AC's name should be changed and also that it should be paid for from the beginning. A proposal to set up a separate, independent trust for the AC/this type of journal was sharply debated.

2.3 CONTEXT WITHIN WHICH WE EMERGE:

Conference deliberated over the crisis facing the socialist countries and sought to draw the necessary lessons: the need to avoid the alienation of the party from the masses; commands and orders from above; the degeneration of trade unions, women, youth and other organisations into rubber stamps of the party; and the suppression of dissent and debate. An introductory paper was followed by wide-ranging discussions. The issues were raised and re-raised at different stages of the proceedings.

The overriding consensus which was reached was that the current upheavals of socialism do not mean the end of socialism. The alienation between people and the party, the party and the working class and the party and the youth which developed in these countries is one aspect from which a host of lessons has to be learnt. For example about how mass organisations can become puppets of the state if they do not enjoy the independence that they should have. Thus at present communists all over are in taking stock and critically examining themselves. The bourgeoisie has not looked at their systems critically: - their whole system of inequality could never be solved under capitalist 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 this. The process of re-examination in socialist countries has also set the imperialist world back, eg disarmament and international peace initiatives that have emanated from this process.

The discussion turned towards a critical assessment of ourselves. We had an advantage as South African communists. We also were a part of the broad front in the South African struggle. Thus we were learning from the people and were able to adjust party policy to this. We are reminded of our history and the sacrifices of South African communists. Yet, the crisis in the socialist countries poses questions we must ask of ourselves. Communists in our country must listen to these warnings. In all those countries of crisis, communists were driven by the principles of communism - in the stage of struggle against fascism, members of these parties sacrificed unto death to bring about freedom. These were not periods of corruption. In all the socialist countries communists were involved in magnificent struggles. They were driven by the interests of the people. So we are talking about people very much like us. We have to look at problems arising out of the fruits of office. It becomes a real question for us how to move forward into the period where State office looms on the horizon.

De Klerk's statement that there is no immediate threat from communism and that the party is no real 'threat to the system, has to be viewed in the context of the current emphasis on negotiations which has the danger of resulting in mass actions being suffocated. Maybe that is one of the reasons why the regime moved so quickly. We need to undertake major initiatives which capture the resources and energies of the people. Though we have been small in number our strength has always been dependent on our closeness to our people. So we must ensure we do not become remote. Negotiations should not be divorced from the masses. Our strength at the table depends on what we do on the ground. There is a tendency on the part of the movement not to put the questions before the people and there is a tendency on the part of the people to feel that the question of obstacles needs to be discussed only at the negotiating table.

We need to take our perspectives of the current situation to the ground otherwise our people will not perceive our tactics as theirs. Thus there needs to be a much more systematic way of consulting and reporting back. There was very strong feeling expressed about this by conference. Linked to this, conference expressed considerable concern about the way in which all components of the Alliance should emerge in the legal terrain with proper consultation and reporting back; and further that where this has not been the case urgent measures should be taken to correct it.

Yet the lack of feedback now should not lead us to distort what the process have been thus far. We the members of the Party, the ANC, the trade unions and the mass democratic formations forced the regime to the present conjuncture: significantly, the Harare Declaration and especially the role of comrade Mandela who even from prison really forced the regime to look at the question of negotiations in a manner that does not compromise us. We had a mandate: the preconditions were the popular demands of the people. In the same way we need to seek a mandate for the next stage of the negotiations: to argue for an interim government to bring about a constituent assembly; to argue for ways through which the redistribution of the wealth must occur, etc. We must do this now and not after the December Conference.

We - the activists - have failed to take full advantage of the fact that some of the preconditions have been met and we have to take such advantage of the spaces which have been opened in the future. It is not the masses but rather the activist core that is being demobilised.

In the context of the role of the masses there was lively debate on the question of the Bantustans and town councils. There was broad consensus that our approach to different situations should be flexible and should be guided by the need to involve the masses. In certain instances it was felt that the growth of mass activity in some of the Bantustans had made the once correct approach of demanding a referendum, tactically incorrect at the current conjuncture; what was once a demand involving the people today because of the mobilisation of the people was a foregone conclusion. Mass activity would be better sustained were we to address the people to put pressure on these authorities to democratise the existing structures in preparation for their reincorporation into a future democratic South Africa. While this may be the best tactic in certain cases, in others, eg in the case of Bophuthatswana and Kwa Zulu, the demand for reincorporation is equally valid.

Concern was expressed that layers and layers of activists have not been made to understand current tactical manoeuvres to neutralise and win over the Bantustan leaders. It is taking place over the heads of the people and done in a way that confuses our people.

The current climate holds immense potential for a significant advance of our struggle. It requires creativity and tactical flexibility. Our vision is of a socialist society in which humanity and the individual with truly flourish. Yet 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. While we as communists have unlimited potential to learn from our mistakes, we must transform this potential into a reality.

2.4 REVOLUTIONARY ALLIANCE:

The following extracts are taken from the paper which introduced the discussion on the ANC-SACP-COSATU Alliance:

"This new situation has its own problems. In trying to understand these problems, we need to speculate on why the other side, contrary to our expectations, decided to unban both the ANC and the Party at the same time.

To say that our all-round struggle obliged the other side to act as it did on February the 2nd, provides only half the answer. We need to be alive to the fact that the regime, together with its imperialist allies, are cherishing an idea that conditions exist for them to trap the ANC and the Party into rivalry. This perspective on their part is sustained partly by events in Eastern Europe as well as by the ANC's potential for a phenomenal growth with an inter-class content.

Over the years, the ideologists of anti-communism have spread the myth that the Communists' policy of alliances is Machiavellian and is allegedly designed to use an ally and then to throw him out like a squashed lemon. Given this, the perspective ahead of us therefore, is one of an intense ideological attack against us as well as the Alliance. We have to hold ourselves in readiness to engage in this polemic. We must also bear in mind that the future and viability of this Alliance depends, above anything else, on how it is developed in the new situation.

Contrary to what anti-communist ideologists have been saying, to us an alliance implies equality and respect for the allies' independence and identity. We understand the general laws of the formation and the development of this Alliance to be:

i) community of the allies' vital interests;

ii) consideration of these interests in the economic and political     platform of unity;

iii) the masses' own experience as the basis for the Alliance;

iv) unity and struggle in the framework of the Alliance; and

v) democratic methods of relations between the allies.

Tripartite consultations at national level will be meaningless unless they are reproduced at local and regional levels.

Our independence will derive from the fact that we go into the Alliance as a separate organisation with its own constitution, decision-making structures and program. Our mandate to the Alliance platform will at all times be derived from our own decision-making structures. The same applies to our allies. The Alliance platforms do not have as such, to usurp the role and function of our respective constitutional structures as allies. This means therefore that Alliance forums will have less decision-making powers - relative to the constitutional structures of the constituents.

The perspective of building and developing "Peoples' Power" provides the initial basis for the Alliance. We believe that the ANC is the spearhead of this process and. further that, the trade union movement is a critical organ thereof.

This brings us to the role of the individual Party member vis-a-vis the ANC, individual trade unions and COSATU as well as all grassroots organisations. Proceeding from our perspective of "Peoples' Power", we see the need to have vibrant mass-based formations within and outside the Party. Party members have as much responsibility in building these formations as they have in the building the Party. The same understanding that we had during the days of the Congress alliance and in the formative stages of the trade union movement, are subject (in the same way as everybody else is expected to be), to the discipline of those organisations."

Conference agreed that the Alliance is a strategic alliance based not only on how to defeat the enemy but to also to create organs of people's power. Our actions have to be such that they are geared to benefit each other to take the alliance and the people forward in strength and action. It is a relationship of independence and inter-dependence. The pivot of the Alliance is democracy and accountability within each of the constituents and to one another. It should be formalised. But, in addition, we felt that there is also a need for decisiveness and the capacity to act - always on the basis of involving the masses. Otherwise we carry on building huge structures and bureaucracies and nothing will get done.

Two suggestions were made. Firstly, that besides the bilateral relationships that will emerge between constituents in the Alliance, in addition to the Tripartite Alliance, and those with other organisations; the key is a the establishment by the three parties to the Alliance of a joint structural strategic planning body. The tripartite alliance should not become a restraint but a facilitator. There should also be place for bilateral relationships.

Secondly, conference felt that if the Alliance has structures, it should also have certain work of its own as the Alliance. To this end recommendations for the organisation of a joint campaign of the Alliance was made to the Central Committee.

The question of how do the mass based structures like the UDF feed into this alliance was extensively debated. It was felt that bodies such as civics potentially have a far wider basis for membership than the working class consituency of COSATU or political constituencies of both the ANC and the Party. We want everybody to play a part in the civics. We want access to this wider community. These are rudimentary organs of people's power which must be strengthened. The formalisation and structuring of the Alliance which are necessary to make it workable, are unlike the often informal or temporary structures built by communities.

It was suggested that while the revolutionary alliance would have its national and regional structures, at the local level it should draw into its activities the broad majority. These local levels would embrace the widest spectrum of support especially of organisations who have supported us during the defiance campaign and Conference for a Democratic Future and all our struggles.

Conference discussed the UDF in a somewhat different light especially as it has come to occupy an important space. It was felt that of its own accord the UDF is perceiving its role differently since the unbanning of the ANC. One aspect of this changing role is that the umbrella body of all local civic organisations which the UDF had planned to create, would now be a task that the UDF itself would be able to carry out. Conference recommended to the Central Committee that it raise the need for urgent attention to be given by the Alliance to greater coordination between local civic bodies.

The meeting focused on practical problems and experiences. It was felt that the alliance should not be a talking shop. We need to look at problems on the ground. An example of how unions affiliated to COSATU feel that activists from townships are trying to usurp the trade union role was raised. Comrades pointed out how such divisions between the community organisation and the comrades in the union have a very bad effect on every component in the Alliance and said that in practice it is making it difficult for union members to see themselves participating fully and freely in the ANC branches that are being set up.

2.5 OUR COMPOSITION & WOMEN WORKERS

Despite the repeated commitment of the Party to paying attention to the gender question in its organisational work to ensure the correct social and class composition of the membership, in practice women - and especially women workers - have not been mobilised into our ranks in sufficient numbers. Conference examined this question in a separate discussion. This was introduced by a paper which not only covered the basis in principle for the Party's position in this regard, but in particular tried to overcome past separation of theory and practice by raising a number of practical problems and proposals for future work.

Here are some extracts from this introductory paper:

"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 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 campaign 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.

We need to prioritise this question."

After discussion and further contributions, conference made the following recommendations:

*     Formulate a code of conduct for Party members which will address issues of morality, sexism etc.

*     In the composition of Party structures particular attention must be given to the place for women without tokenism.

*     Formulate a Campaign around the womens charter.

*     Actively join the Workers charter campaign and within promotes issues of working women.

*     Develop training programmes for women to include aspects such as leadership training etc.

*     Develop an education programme directed to the upliftment of women and to the education of male comrades. This programme to be jointly planned and implemented with men and women.

*     Specific persons to be deployed to look at the role of women.

*     Develop particular approaches to African, Indian and Coloured women workers.

*     Examine ways in which persons involved in trade union negotiations can include women's issues and rights in such negotiations.

*     In addressing the organisation and issues of women we should avoid an approach which is considered as militant feminism.

2.6 PATH TO POWER:

The discussion of aspects of our programme, "Path to Power", which relate to our strategies for obtaining power in the current situation was a vital part of the meeting. Although it could by no means be considered to be exhaustive or to examine the programme as a whole, it enabled comrades to explore a host of questions we ask of ourselves and are asked by others about how the current talks about preconditions and the possibility of negotiations affects our strategy.

The extracts below capture how conference viewed this question. A central part of the recommendations made to the Central Committee on these issues concerned the need for the Alliance as a whole to ensure that those who have been appointed to represent any of the three organisations, have a clear perception of the official positions of these organisations and any misrepresentations are speedily and publicly corrected. Without this, much uncertainty, confusion and demoralisation will develop.

Let us first examine what the key elements of our strategy are.

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.

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.

The "Path to Power" therefore envisaged several forms of struggle, legal and illegal, armed and non-violent. It asserts that we are on the threshold of a revolutionary breakthrough, and that the situation 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.

We may in the course of negotiations limit - temporarily or for the time that the negotiations continue - 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 little else to rely on. Our people are our main bastion. Their struggle and sacrifices are the main reason why the regime is being forced to consider negotiations 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.

We therefore cannot talk about moving away from mobilisation to organisation as though these rigidly separated compartments. 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.

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 resistance 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 disciplined militancy by the masses of the oppressed. We can never bargain away our right to protest.

We should insist on discipline. The new situation calls for a responsible blend of discipline and militancy. We are 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.

Negotiation has become a key terrain of struggle. Negotiations has to be rooted among the masses. Intensification of mass struggle must cradle negotiation.

The question of dual power is clouding the issue - many are saying we must sue for dual power. Dual power relates to state power. The issue of dual power as it is being presented at the moment shifts our focus - our central focus should be state power otherwise we may demobilise our people.

The position of the movement is clear. We are opposed to apartheid violence. We cannot throw away our peoples rights to defend themselves against apartheid violence. It is the removal of apartheid violence that will remove the counter violence. Our people must surge on to destroy apartheid.

3. CONCLUSION:

Conference ended its deliberations in a spirit of confidence and determination. Comrades who were responsible for security, catering and administrative aspects which made the meeting possible, were warmly greeted.

The Conference resolved to submit to the Central Committee the full record of the meeting and the detailed recommendations which we adopted during the final session.

Conference finally recommended to the Central Committee that it prepare a report of the conference in order to deepen and widen the consultation process and to ensure that our decisions are conveyed directly rather than solely through the commercial press.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.