South African Communist Party

1921-2021—One Hundred Years of Unbroken Struggle Put People Before Profit: Socialism is the Future—Build it now. [Acknowledgments] It is a privilege to deliver the Central Committee Statement on this important occasion, the 100th founding anniversary of the SACP as the Communist Party of South Africa. The formation of the Communist Party took place on July 30th, 1921, at its founding conference held in Cape Town from July 30th to August 1st, 1921.  This is an abridged Central Committee Statement prepared for delivery on the Centenary of the SACP. We will make both the abridged and full statements publicly available. As we mark one hundred years of the Communist Party in South Africa, this cannot be an ordinary anniversary celebration. We say this because it is both a centenary, and because over the past weeks we have experienced an extremely dangerous moment with many warning signs for all who cherish democracy and peace in our country. We saw looting, vandalism, burning and outright economic sabotage. We cannot commemorate one hundred years of unbroken struggle as if these events of July 2021 had barely happened. And so, as we mark one hundred years of unbroken Communist struggle in South Africa, let us ask: How did it come to this? What lessons can we draw from one hundred years of Communist struggle on the soil of South Africa? What legacy do we have that can help us both to understand, and, in practice, respond to the challenges confronting us in the present? The SACP’s enduring legacy—a National Democratic Revolution as the most direct path to Socialism in South Africa We must not be in denial of the challenges, but nor should we underestimate the most enduring contribution that the Communist Party in South Africa has made in theory and, above all, in practice. This decisive contribution has been the Party’s elaboration of the critical relationship between national oppression and capitalist class exploitation; between racialised patriarchal oppression and the hyper-exploitation of black labour; between the legacy of decades of white minority rule and the persisting subordination of our country as a crisis-ridden, semi-periphery within an imperialist dominated global system. This understanding of these critical interconnections, has grounded our strategic perspective of a struggle for socialism as an integral part of a national democratic revolution. This strategic approach was the consequence of the early Party’s grounding in Marxism, its engagement with lessons from other struggles through the Communist International, and the organic struggle traditions of the people of southern Africa. If the indigenous people of our country and those who were shipped here in chains from East Asia, from Madagascar, from Angola, and elsewhere were victims, they were never passive victims. Armed primary resistance was eventually defeated. Slave revolts were mercilessly crushed. But despite the often, genocidal objectives of the colonial powers, this sustained resistance meant that (uniquely for a country in the temperate zone with an extensive European colonial settlement) when the 20th century dawned the overwhelming majority of South Africa’s inhabitants were not of European extraction. This majority carried into the 20th century—however battered—cultures, languages and, above all, traditions of collective resistance. The colonisers called this “the native problem”. The Communist Party from its earliest days understood it to be the potential motive force for freedom, democracy and the abolition of class exploitation. It was this strategic perspective that led the Communist Party from the 1920s to pioneer the call for majority rule and full citizenship rights for all who live in South Africa—long before the ANC was to advance this approach which was radical for its time. And it was this strategic…

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Statement of the South African Communist Party Central Committee on the Centenary of the Party, delivered by Dr Blade Nzimande, the SACP General Secretary