South Africa 

SACP and COSATU bilateral statement

The South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) held a bilateral meeting on Monday, 30 November 2020. The National Office Bearers of the SACP and COSATU attended the meeting. The SACP and COSATU convened the bilateral meeting to discuss key developments in the country, the response of the working class, the state of the Alliance, and in its shared strategy of struggle and transformation, the national democratic revolution.

Neither for neoliberal nor state capture networks

The SACP and COSATU bilateral meeting reiterated the shared stance-we are neither for neoliberal nor state capture networks. Ours is a developmental and caring programme of structural transformation. This is in line with our shared strategic perspective, that of the necessity to place the national democratic revolution, our democratic transition, into a second radical phase towards the achievement of the goals of the Freedom Charter.

Programme of action and immediate objective

On Friday, 4 December 2020, the SACP will join COSATU in a protest action at the Union Buildings. The purpose of the picket is to defend the system of collective bargaining and demand a response to the memorandum submitted by COSATU on 7 October 2020 during the national day of action for decent work, including respect for social dialogue institutions and mechanisms such as collective bargaining, and against corruption.

The key demands covered in the memorandum include the demand for government to honour public service and administration wage adjustments agreed to in due collective bargaining processes. The refusal by the government, under the arrogance of the National Treasury, to respect collective bargaining agreements will establish a wrong precedence for the rest of the economy. That cannot be allowed. The memorandum also demanded decisive action against corruption and corporate state capture, including in the COVID-19 procurement.

The SACP and COSATU bilateral meeting reaffirmed the shared stance of the two formations of the left axis within our Alliance—for building, deepening, and widening the unity of organised workers, and the working class at large. The national day of action for decent work and against corruption programme was supported by other federations. The SACP and COSATU are completely at one about the imperative to further advancing the unity of organised workers and organising the unorganised. The immediate tasks facing this unity of purpose include waging the struggle against retrenchments in the private and public sector, advancing a common programme of action against austerity, and jointly pushing an economic policy change to radically reduce unemployment by protecting existing employment and workers’ hard won gains and rights, create employment, and radically reduce poverty and inequality.

The bilateral session also discussed preparations for the next local government elections to be held in 2021. The ANC drafted and released local government elections candidate’s selection guidelines. We discussed this matter at the last Alliance Secretariat meeting, where the SACP and COSATU proposed time for internal and wider consultation to look at the guidelines and return to the level of the Alliance Political Council and Summit before the start of the next election processes for a conclusive consideration. One thing is certain-the election guidelines must reflect the letter and spirit of the Alliance reconfiguration process.

There is no way that the Alliance can function optimally and face any election outside of the reconfiguration process. The SACP and COSATU bilateral meeting reaffirmed their respective National Congress resolutions to reflect on the way forward before the elections if the Alliance reconfiguration process does not materialise or is undermined. The way forward will be announced publicly after consultation at an appropriate time and implemented before the next local government elections in terms of our respective National Congress resolutions and declarations on this matter.

The SACP and COSATU bilateral meeting has tasked a joint Secretariat Task Team to elaborate a common practical programme covering shared programmes. Besides the campaign to confront austerity, defend collective bargaining, safeguard workers’ hard-won gains and rights, advance decent work, dismantle the networks of state capture, both old and new, the joint practical programme will also include the Red October Campaign areas, hunger eradication, human settlements, healthcare, and water, and tackle the interrelated crises of social reproduction, unemployment, poverty, and inequality, the scourge of gender-based violence at work and in communities, and secure public infrastructure and public property as a whole.

The SACP and COSATU will also work together and connect with other progressive domestic and international forces to start a campaign for the COVID-19 vaccine to be made available and accessible as a public good, covering all countries of the world to bring the pandemic to an end in the interest of humanity.

Our two formations agreed to start preparations for the next Joe Slovo annual commemoration to be held on 6 January 2020 and use that as a platform to advance our shared strategic perspective.

The meeting took place against the background of the global COVID-19 pandemic having deepened the endemic crisis of the prevailing capitalist system. The crisis was reflected in a long period of persistently high levels of unemployment, poverty, and inequality, and the interrelated crisis of social reproduction—the increased incapacity of many households to support life itself—because of the system of capitalist exploitation. This is the context in which 2.2 million jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2020. In the third quarter, unemployment rose to 43.1 per cent, affecting over 11 million active and discouraged work-seekers.

The capitalist bosses, who are interested only in profit for private wealth accumulation, are responsible for the retrenchments that occurred in our economy. However, retrenchments have also occurred in the public sector. Other public entities are still pushing retrenchments. The capitalist bosses clearly appear to have found a subordinate partner in the National Treasury. Instead of serving the needs of all the people, with a focus on improving the quality of life of especially the overwhelming majority, the working class and poor, more and more the National Treasury comes across as a transmission belt of a neoliberal policy regime driven by the interests of financial monopolies and foreign-based establishments.

It is in this context that an agenda to divest public entities and push the liquidation, partial privatisation or complete sell-off of others, or the infrastructure that falls under their auspices, has found its way into the role actively played by the National Treasury. Paradoxically, one of the key problems facing South Africa under the current administration, which is one of its key mandates from the last general election, is to clamp down on corporate state capture, including the capture of the policy space by vested private wealth accumulation interests, foreign and local. Privatisation and outsourcing are the entry points of and serve to facilitate the capture of publicly owned assets and state functions by private interests for their own profit.

We reaffirm the centrality of an active and robust international solidarity programme, anchored in the need to address the massive devastation the African continent and the whole developing world manifested in the deepening crisis of hunger, poverty, wars and economic exploitation by multinational corporations in alliance with corrupt local and foreign elites.

Source: South African Communist Party – SACP and COSATU bilateral statement

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