4 July 2020
General Secretary of the SACP, Cde Blade Nzimande,
Central Committee members of the party,
Leaders of the revolutionary Alliance,
Comrades and friends,
On behalf of the leadership and membership of the African National Congress, I bring you warm revolutionary greetings on this very joyous day as we gather to celebrate 100 years of the South African Communist Party.
The birth of this vanguard of the working class was a monumental moment in the history of the South African people against all forms of oppression and exploitation.
Inspired by revolutionary events taking place on foreign shores, the Communist Party of South Africa was a direct and audacious challenge to the deprivation that had been visited on the workers and peasants of our land.
It established itself as a militant foe both of the racist authorities that governed our country and the capitalist system that exploited our people.
And in doing so, it earned the respect, the support, the confidence and the love of the struggling masses of our country.
If we had it our way, we would be gathered in a stadium so that all may join in the celebration of this centenary.
Unfortunately, this occasion takes place when our country and the world is in the midst of a devastating pandemic, when we cannot gather together, when to remain apart is necessary for the preservation of life and health.
Yet, although we cannot be together, this pandemic has demanded more than ever that we strengthen the bonds of human solidarity and compassion.
It has laid bare the deep divisions and glaring inequalities that define our world and our society.
This pandemic has had a devasting impact on the working class and the poor.
It has deepened unemployment, inequality and poverty. Across the world, millions have lost income, jobs and livelihoods.
The pandemic has demonstrated the huge divide in access to health care, shelter, water, electricity and other basic services. It has shown the vulnerability of millions of people to hunger and food insecurity.
While the disease is caused by a virus, the pandemic is caused by humans.
Through our actions and our inaction, through our indifference to suffering, through our tolerance of injustice, through our inability to confront inequality, we have – as a global community – provided the means for this virus to cause such devastation.
And this is why this occasion, the centenary of the South African Communist Party, is imbued with such significance.
The social, political and economic conditions that made this pandemic possible are precisely the conditions that the SACP has dedicated its existence to overcoming.
It was the late SACP General Secretary Comrade Chris Hani who said:
“Socialism is not about big concepts and heavy theory. Socialism is about decent shelter for those who are homeless. It is about water for those who have no safe drinking water. It is about healthcare, it is about life of dignity for the old. It is about overcoming the huge divide between the urban and rural areas.
“It is about a decent education for all our people. Socialism is about rolling back the tyranny of the market. As long as the economy is dominated by an unelected privileged few, the case for socialism will exist.”
There can be few who reflect on the state of the world today who would not agree that the case for socialism still exists.
As we observed in our January 8th Statement this year, the SACP has – throughout its history – remained a dependable ally not only of our liberation movement, but of the oppressed and exploited of South Africa.
It has been at the forefront of the struggle against racial discrimination and capitalist exploitation, understanding the inextricable relationship between race and class in South Africa.
From even its earliest years, it has been embedded in the struggles of communities and in the mobilisation of workers.
Members of the Communist Party were among the first to feel the repressive wrath of the apartheid state and were prominent among the first men and women to take up arms to defend our people.
The revolutionary alliance between the ANC and the SACP was forged in the crucible of struggle.
We recall the words of ANC President Oliver Tambo when he spoke on the 60th anniversary of the SACP in 1981. He said:
“The relationship between the ANC and the SACP is not an accident of history, nor is it a natural and inevitable development…
“Ours is not merely a paper alliance, created at conference tables and formalised through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leaders. Our alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle.
“Within our revolutionary alliance each organisation has a distinct and vital role to play. A correct understanding of these roles, and respect for their boundaries has ensured the survival and consolidation of our cooperation and unity.”
As we reflect on this Alliance, we need to recognise the critical role that the SACP has played in the political and ideological development of the liberation movement. The policies, programmes and perspectives of the ANC have, over the course of many decades, been greatly enriched by the political discourse of the SACP.
The ANC has also benefited from the involvement of SACP members in building the structures of the ANC and in forging a progressive labour movement. They have done so as fully-fledged members of the ANC, understanding the need to build a powerful national liberation movement capable of advancing the National Democratic Revolution.
These members of the SACP have brought to the ANC intellectual rigour, political consciousness, discipline, integrity and a profound understanding of the South African situation.
Now, as the SACP enters its second century, as we confront the challenges, contradictions and opportunities of the present, we need to reaffirm our commitment to this Alliance and to its revolutionary programme of fundamental transformation.
In this moment, we must understand, as President Oliver Tambo did, that our relationship is not an accident of history. Nor is it static. It is a living organism that must adapt to the circumstances and the tasks of the time.
And so, as we celebrate this centenary, we must look to the future.
Drawing on our rich history of struggle, we must determine the role, content and form that our revolutionary Alliance must take to realise our shared goal of a National Democratic Society.
We must strive with the sincerity and the rigour of those who came before us to develop a common understanding of the current conditions in our country, on our continent and in the world – and work together to define the tasks that we must undertake.
Our Alliance derives its value and its meaning – and its strength – from its position with and among the masses of our people.
It is an Alliance that must be engaged in the daily struggles of South Africans, that must serve only their interests, that must champion only their needs, and must relentlessly strive for the betterment of their lives.
As we celebrate this historic milestone, let us recommit ourselves to the age-old values of our movement such as self-sacrifice, humility, service to the people, tolerance, discipline, hard-work and integrity.
Let us work hard to preserve the unity of our movement and our country.
Let us hold fast to our culture of open debate, tolerance and vibrant internal democracy.
Let us combat all forms of patriarchy within our ranks, and remove all impediments to the advancement of women within our movement.
Let us stand firm against factionalism, patronage and division.
Let us be unrelenting in our resolve to end state capture and corruption, wherever it may be and whatever form it may take.
Let us place the interests of the people above all else.
For the past century, the South African Communist Party has been a force for progressive revolutionary change.
It has been a vital part of the struggle to achieve and to build a democratic South Africa.
Now, as we undertake the difficult task of economic recovery, as we seek to accelerate the fundamental transformation of our society, we once again look to the SACP for guidance, partnership and leadership.
As the African National Congress, we salute the SACP on this historic anniversary and pledge our support and solidarity for the work that lies ahead.
I thank you.