The South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) held a bilateral session today, 18 September 2017. The strategic meeting was attended by the national officials and office bearers of the two working class organisations. The meeting discussed a wide range of issues, including the state of the economy and our alliance. South Africa has just come out of a technical recession, but thousands of workers in various sectors are facing retrenchment as capitalist bosses intensify restructuring to secure and maximise profit without regard to the plight of the workers. The intensified offensive by the bosses has capitalised on the weaknesses facing our alliance.
The meeting expressed deep concern about the state of the ANC-headed alliance. Alliance Secretariat and Political Council meetings have collapsed. In the process, divisions in our broader movement have intensified. People are increasingly turning to the courts, the mechanism of the last resort, as an alternative for relief in the midst of glaring leadership failures. Killings in our movement have increased and continue unabated. Provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have become the glaring example of this painful experience reminiscent of apartheid sponsored killings.
The recent court decision which has implications on the ANC KZN leadership will require sober and sensible leadership that places principled organisational unity of common purpose above everything else. In the same vein, similar cases which may emerge in future should be handled with care. ANC leadership at all levels needs protect the credibility of its forthcoming December Conference and ensure that is not derailed.
These problems require bold and decisive leadership! The nation needs an inspiring leadership that has the capacity to look beyond narrow selfish interests. The ANC can tap into the recent experiences of COSATU in which it attempted to intervene. Arbitrary disciplinary hearings and rebellious public statements are not an answer to the current challenges and the courts are not a substitute for revolutionary organisation.
It is very clear radical action is required.
The SACP and COSATU will be making every attempt to sensitise about the urgent, inescapable necessity for the alliance to function optimally. The absence of democratic, consensus-seeking consultation on the direction of our shared national democratic revolution has created a gulf of leadership affecting both the alliance and society as whole. This has plunged the revolution into unchartered waters, an unacceptable situation of uncertainty and all manner of factional, including right-wing opportunism seeking to fill the void. If this situation continues, the SACP and COSATU will consult with SANCO (the South African National Civic Organisation) to convene the alliance with or without the ANC!
The SACP and COSATU will be convening a joint press briefing our work towards the COSATU-led September 27th protest action against corruption and failure to act against corporate capture of strategic levers of the state. The details of the joint press briefing will be announced in due course. The programme will cover further action to be taken against job losses in the economy as a result of capitalist restructuring.
The restructuring includes new methods of work and production co-ordination. The capitalist bosses are increasing the employment of new production technology, reducing the number of employed workers and suppressing qualifications-based training to equip workers with portable skills. Those who remain employed face intensified work conditions and ever deepening exploitation. In our country, employment does not mean an exit from the vice grip of poverty, since millions of workers are the working poor, while capitalist bosses heap up profit and continue to privately accumulate wealth.
The bilateral agreed that the best response to the situation is working class unity, organisation, campaigning, collective bargaining and political action to enforce workers’ demands and fight class inequality, including its racial, gender and spatial articulations. The meeting therefore expressed concern about organisational and political capacity to win the battle. The SACP and COSATU will work together towards unifying organised workers, organising the unorganised and building working class consciousness in the ranks of the trade union movement and broader society across all key sites of struggle.
Issued by COSATU and SACP
Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, 060 975 6794
Alex Mashilo, National Spokesperson, 076 316 9816