Sunday, 4 July 2021

Delivered virtually by the SACP General Secretary, Dr Blade Nzimande

SACP National Office Bearers, National Treasurer Joyce Moloi-Moropa, First Deputy General Secretary Solly Mapaila, Deputy National Chairperson ThulasNxesi, Second Deputy General Secretary Chris Matlhako, and in absentia National Chairperson Senzeni Zokwana, the entire leadership of the SACP Central Committee and its Poliburo, including Provincial Secretaries and Chairpersons in their ex-officio capacity. 

President of the ANC cde Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC cde Jessie Duarte, and the entire ANC leadership present here today.

The leadership of COSATU present here today, National Treasurer Freda Oosthuysen and First Deputy President Mike Shingange, and the entire delegation of COSATU and its affiliates.

All members of the SACP leadership organs at the sub-national level, the entire membership of the Party, comrades, and friends, including those following this event on internet platforms, radio, and television in South Africa, Southern Africa, the African continent at large, and overseas.   

Today we are launching the SACP centenary celebration programme. It is a great honour and privilege to me to deliver the opening statement of the SACP centenary celebration programme. We will deliver the main centenary statement on 1 August 2021.

The month of July 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the South African Communist Party (SACP) as the Communist Party of South Africa. The Communist Party was founded at a three-day conference held on 30 and 31 July and 1 August 1921 in Cape Town. The founding of the Communist Party had been announced at a public rally held on 29 July 1921 in the Cape Town City Hall. However, it was not until the following day, 30 July 1921, that the founding conference delegates adopted a report and formally passed a resolution formally establishing the Communist Party of South Africa.

We had planned to hold today’s event as a hybrid rally in Cape Town. However, we could not proceed with the plan, due to the third surge of the COVID-19 infections rapidly rising in our country. 

A day before yesterday, on Friday 2 July 2021, South Africa identified over 24,000 COVID-19 positive cases. Since the first COVID-19 positive case was detected in the country in March 2020, South Africa confirmed approximately 2,02 million COVID-19 positive cases. We had approximately 1,8 million recoveries, while we lost just over 61,300 lives to the deadly virus. South Africa administered about 3,3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. While this is progress, we still have a long way to go in our vaccination journey.

Our centenary theme is “Put People Before Profits”, and it is guided by our Party’s strategic slogan, “Socialism is the Future – Build it Now”. Until we have overcome the deadly virus, we must adhere to the COVID-19 preventative measures, including lockdown regulations, to protect life.

The pandemic crisis

We also need to tackle the political economy of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly vaccine nationalism, apartheid and imperialism, and the associated greed that places profit before people. The prevailing political economy of the COVID-19 vaccines is making things difficult for humanity to overcome the pandemic.

The United States and Western European countries, for instance, have snapped up the patented COVID-19 vaccines, more than they need for their populations. Vaccine nationalism deprives millions of people in developing countries of vaccination. Compounding the situation, the pricing model for the vaccines is unfair.

The imperialist countries snapped up the vaccines at a favourable price than their big pharmaceutical corporations demand from poor countries. As if that were not enough, the developing countries find themselves faced with COVID-19 vaccine access conditionalities demanded by the Western-based big pharmaceutical multinational corporations. The conditionalities have the effect of undermining democratic national sovereignty. They are imperialist in content. In addition, they comprise elements that seek to exempt the big pharmaceutical corporations from taking responsibility for the vaccines.

More, the imperialist nexus is opposed to the waiver of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on the patented COVID-19 vaccines. This stands in the way of developing countries that have productive capacity or can develop that capacity to produce the vaccines in support of the decisive vaccination that the whole world needs. One reason that is given for the opposition to the TRIPS waiver on COVID-19 vaccines, is that even it is granted the raw materials will not be readily available. It is as if the raw materials must not be made accessible.

The idea implicit in vaccine nationalism and imperialism, that life matters only in the imperialist countries, and that profiting from the pandemic crisis is more important than saving human life, is completely unacceptable. For the world to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, people in every country must have access to the vaccines as public goods, and therefore to vaccination.

On behalf of the SACP, I want to take this opportunity to appeal to all South Africans to unite against vaccine nationalism and imperialism. Similarly, let us support the efforts led by our government, working together with other governments of developing countries, to achieve the COVID-19 vaccines TRIPS waiver. In addition, the raw materials used in the manufacturing of the vaccines should be made accessible. Both the COVID-19 vaccines TRIPS waiver and access to the COVID-19 vaccines raw materials are crucial for the massification of the vaccines and vaccination for all to protect life, regardless of nationality, race, and gender. We also need to unite to end the unfair COVID-19 vaccine pricing model that favour imperialist countries and places profit before people.

The efficacy and safety of all COVID-19 vaccines against the COVID-19 variants dominant in South Africa is as important as their inclusion in our national vaccination programme. Therefore, our national COVID-19 vaccination strategy must include engagements with Russia and China within the BRICS co-operation on solidarity- and development-based access to the vaccines the two BRICS countries have produced. In the Global South, Cuba has also been making advances in producing COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Engagements and scientific co-operation with Cuba are also as crucial as scientific co-operation with China and Russia.

Besides the sourcing of the vaccines elsewhere on a fair basis, it is also important to advance vaccine research and development in South Africa as part of our wider strategy in view of our COVID-19 national and international experiences. This is also an important component of productive capacity building to fight any future viruses and pandemics.

The economic crisis and the crisis of social reproduction

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pre-existing economic crisis has accentuated. From the perspective of the working class, the worst affected, the economic crisis is indicated by high levels of unemployment, poverty, and inequality, besides stagnation and frequent recessions.

To overcome the crisis of the capitalist system, South Africa needs a change in policy direction. This is the task facing the SACP and the working class as we march into the second centenary of the Party. To succeed, we need to build and deepen the unity of the working class, and other progressive forces.

The capitalist system is anchored in inequality. That is its hallmark. Capitalism is the structural driver of unemployment, poverty, and inequality, which it moves like waves on a global basis. Where unemployment, poverty and inequality are low and where they are high is determined not merely by technical capacity but primarily by the power relations between the oppressors and the oppressed, between the imperialist countries and those that they dominate, between the exploiters and the exploited. Unemployment, poverty, and inequality always affect the oppressed, those dominated by imperialist forces, and the exploited and marginalised. This has race and gender dynamics. It is particularly black people and women who are the worst affected. In South Africa, this is the result of colonisation, apartheid, and their persisting legacy.

Associated with the economic crisis, the crisis of social reproduction that is indicated by many households struggling to support life has also accentuated.

Also not unrelated, the scourges of interpersonal violence, gender-based violence, drug and substance abuse, and criminality are also devastating many households and communities. We must continue tackling these scourges while tackling the COVID-19 pandemic to protect human life.

Defend our democracy

We must protect the supremacy of our constitution and the rule of law. Our constitution is a product of our liberation struggle, during which we lost many lives as a result of violence by the colonisers, the apartheid forces, and their surrogates. We value each life equally that we lost, before and even after 1994, and both in and outside our country.

We lost, among others, the life of our own General Secretary, comrade Chris Hani. His assassins aimed at perpetuating apartheid. With the sterling leadership of our movement, the masses rejected the invitation to a civil war, more blood shedding. The date for the first democratic general election we held in 1994 was set, and we achieved the transition from apartheid to our current democratic dispensation, with our constitution being the supreme law of the republic. 

Our constitution is not something we can allow any person or grouping to gamble with or undermine. Defending the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law is therefore a national imperative.

We strongly condemn the groupings and individuals who are inciting violence to undermine our constitution. As things stand, we have not recovered in every respect from the consequences of apartheid violence, including the violence the apartheid regime sponsored through its surrogates. Many families encountered permanent loss of life. That is, the life of their loved ones that they lost is irreplaceable. The majority of the loss was experienced by black families. Never again must any person be allowed to return us to the dark past we experienced.

The leaders, former leaders, and members of any formation in our broader movement in whose name reckless elements are inciting violence, must distance themselves from such treachery, counterrevolutionary conduct. We call upon all leaders not to allow their names to be used in calls for violence.

In the same vein, we strongly condemn the abuse of the name of our joint ANC and SACP liberation army, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), which we dissolved in favour of our transition to democracy, establishment of, and integration into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Real MK veterans know that life is invaluable and irreplaceable. They will not go around carelessly inciting violence and mobilising to undermine the very hard-won democratic transition that the MK fought for.

Let the name of the MK not be allowed to be used to pursue what essentially is a counter revolutionary agenda. We say this because we know what war is!

Masingadlali ngempi, ngoba impi iyabulala. Masisebenze ngokuzinikela ekuthuthukiseni izwe lakithi ngokuthi silwe nesitha sangempela, indlala nokwesweleka kwemisebenzi. Masiqinise imizabalazo yethu yokulwa nokuhlukunyezwa kwabantu besifazane. Masibe ngamalunga emibutho yethu ngokweqiniso, siyivikele, singabi a Malungu amanye amalungu embuthweni!

Laba abathi makuliwe, bathi makuliwe nobani, ukuze kube njani? Kufanele sizibuze ukuthi labo abathi makuliwe bathunywe ngubani?

The gun shots spread by the elements inciting violence must be condemned in the strongest terms and be investigated thoroughly. Those responsible must be brought to book. No stone must be left unturned, in defending our democracy.

Corruption is another key challenge threatening our democracy. We wish to reiterate our support for the commission of inquiry into state capture and corruption. The commission must conclude its work. The law enforcement organs of state, including the prosecution, must follow up on the report of the commission once released. Those who were responsible or complicit in the corruption investigated by the commission must be held to account. We therefore expect consequence management, including through prosecution and asset forfeiture.

We wish to reiterate our support for the principle that no person is above the law. Let us all close ranks to defend our gains and our democracy!

Dear comrades and friends, we have our own legacy in pushing the struggle for liberation to take cue from.

The historic role of the Communist Party

The Communist Party played a major role in our national liberation struggle since its founding in 1921. It was the Communist Party that forged our liberation Alliance with the ANC and the progressive trade union movement. The Alliance reconfigured to keep pace with the times and played a major role in the forefront of our liberation struggle.

It was the Alliance, then called the Congress Alliance, that co-ordinated the Congress of the People in 1955 and the drafting of the Freedom Charter. The Communist Party, then as an underground organisation but with its leaders and members active in other Congress Alliance formations, made a major contribution to that process, to the formation of the MK, in its operations, and throughout the course of our liberation struggle.

Since this is a launching statement of our centenary celebrations, we will expand, albeit briefly, in our SACP Centenary Statement to be delivered on 1 August 2021. One thing is certain. We are not prepared to allow any person or grouping to take us back. What we want is to advance, deepen and defend the national democratic revolution and intensify the basis for an advance to socialism in our historical conditions.

We call upon the workers and the poor of our country and many other revolutionaries to celebrate the heroic role of communists in the liberation of our country and in the struggles for its reconstruction and development. Let us celebrate this centenary by doing what is necessary and what we can do best, to defend the gains we have made thus far and drive a second, more radical phase of our national democratic revolution!

International solidarity

The SACP stands in solidarity with the people of Swaziland struggling for democracy, human rights, and inclusive development under a people’s government. The violence unleashed by the absolute monarch through the military and other organs of the security apparatus against the people is outrageous. The SACP conveys its deepest condolences to the families of the protesters who were killed by the autocracy and sends wishes of speedy recovery to those who were been injured. The current protests began in May with the demand for an end to police violence. Mswati’s government responded to peaceful protesters with brute force, resulting in unprecedented number of killings by the Swaziland police and the military.

We reiterate our solidarity with the people of Western Sahara and Palestine and reiterates its call for Morocco and Israel to end their occupation of Western Sahara and Palestinian land, respectively.

In the same vein, the SACP call on the United States to end its illegal blockage against Cuba and evacuate the Cuban territory of Guantanamo Bay. We pledge our solidarity with the people and government of Cuba against the United States imperialist aggression.

Long live the SACP, long live!