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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Pre-launch press statement

JUNE 26

FILE NAME : MAINTAIN

Just sending this for your info.

It is the press release at the Press Conference today (19 June) which am told went very well (about 45 journalists and lots of trade unionists who work around the place milling about and making the small room look really full.)  Has already been given a mention a few times on Radio 702 and picture  (Ndobe, Kay and Theo) plus article in the Star.

Did not get to see TV so don't know what was there.

PUBLIC LAUNCH OF THE LEGAL SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY PRESS STATEMENT

After 40 years of illegality, the South African Communist Party is to launch publicly on July 29th as a legal party.  Our objective is to rapidly build a strong, mass party, democratically answerable to both our membership and to our broader working class constituency.

The Communist Party never chose illegality out of preference.  In 1950 the apartheid regime, in one of its first attempts to suppress strong indigenous political traditions, banned the Communist Party.  South African communists were the first to be hit, but they were by no means the only.  In its bid to perpetuate white minority rule, the regime struck out at ever wider circles of democratic opinion in our country – the national liberation movements, liberals, religious believers – none were exempt.  In the face of this anti-democratic onslaught, our Party and its militants chose the only honourable course.

It has not been an easy path.  For building an underground Party we are accused by some of being conspiratorial.  But insofar as we are admired, it is because communists have always been in the front-rank of sacrifice.  More than a hundred Party members have lost their lives – some on the gallows in Pretoria, some in interrogation chambers, many others in the course of active duty.  Thousands more communists have endured long terms of imprisonment, detention, banning, exile, or the daily trials of underground struggle.

After 40 years of hunting us down as its most unswerving opponents, the apartheid regime has failed to obliterate communist ideas and communist organization within our country.  Today our Party and its objectives enjoy wider prestige and popularity than at any time in our 69 year history.

But we are launching our new, legal Party at a complex moment in the international situation.  In many countries of Eastern Europe socialism is in crisis, it has suffered some severe set-backs.  De Klerk and the ruling class now believe that this crisis will produce what 40 years of total suppression have failed to achieve – the discrediting of socialist ideology in South Africa.  They are wrong.

Nevertheless there are important lessons to be drawn from the present international situation.  Some Communist Parties might have failed the cause of communism.  Capitalism has failed humanity.

For the great majority of the earth's population, a world dominated by capitalism continues to mean a crushing debt burden, massive unemployment, declining living standards, starvation and epidemics.  Just as in South Africa, so on a world-scale, the glitter of capitalism in certain parts depends upon its squalid back-yards where the great majority of the population is confined.

The humane ideals embodied in communism remain more relevant than ever to our world, and to our country.  This relevance has been grasped by hundreds of thousands of patriotic South Africans.

It is, therefore, with a sense of demanding responsibility that we will be launching the SACP as a legal organization at a mass rally on July 29th in Soweto.  At the rally the Party will present to the public our internally based national leadership and our policy perspectives.

Amongst other things, we will underline our commitment to achieving a multi-party democracy in a united, non-racial South Africa.  We believe political pluralism is valid for now, for the transition period, and for a socialist future.  The SACP believes in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to full freedom of worship.

We reaffirm the leading role of the ANC in the immediate struggle for national liberation.  We believe that no meaningful emancipation for the majority of South Africa's people is possible without major redistribution of wealth, and without affirmative social and economic programmes.  The SACP believes that the interrelated tasks of liberation and nation building will best be realized through a democratic transition to socialism in the medium term.

If the conditions of real democracy are indeed created, we are firmly convinced that the transition to socialism will be peaceful.  Our Party looks forward to being able to present all these perspectives openly and legally to a truly non-racial South African electorate.

The SACP fully supports the present ANC-led negotiation initiative within the framework of the Harare Declaration, as endorsed by the OAU, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the United Nations.  We also fully endorse the perspectives contained within the Groote Schuur Minute.

The public launch of a legal SACP on July 29th will be a victory for the 40 years of dedication and struggle by our Party militants.  But it is also a victory for millions of South Africans, and particularly working people and militant youth.  It is they who have stood by our Party, rallied behind its flag, struggled in wave upon wave of mass defiance.

We believe that there are now real prospects for a relatively peaceful and genuine transfer of power to the people of South Africa as a whole.  Whether this happens or not depends more than anything on the politically mobilized working people of our country.  We call on them to intensify the struggle on all fronts.

Forward to a democratically elected Constituent Assembly.

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.