Monday, 01 November 2020

Bloemfontein: The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Free State Province held its 12th Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) ordinary plenary session of its 7th Provincial Congress virtually on 29 October 2020.

The PEC took place during the month of October which marks the 103rd anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution which remains amongst the greatest world historical events.

The Great October Revolution illustrated the boundless power of the masses when they took responsibility for the socialist transformation of society.

The PEC received and discussed the political report, organisational report and financial report from the Provincial leadership.

The PEC also reflected on preparations for the planned Provincial Alliance Summit.

On the agenda, the following matters were discussed:

1. Forward to the SACP Red October Campaign

The Provincial Executive Committee welcomed the 2020 Red October Campaign launched by the SACP Central Committee. The theme of this year’s Red October is Hunger Eradication, Health, Human Settlement and Water (HHH&W).

The thematic areas of the Red October campaigns are people centred and will ensure that the Party reconnects and vibrates primarily within working class and poor communities.

The PEC agreed that in our province, the Red October must help catalyse and intensify campaigning and accordingly worked out campaign focus areas which include the following:

On Health

The PEC emphasised that the two-tier health system in the country remains responsible for the huge disparities in infrastructure and capacity existing between the public and private health sectors.

However, the PEC noted that despite limitations and challenges, the public health sector has contributed successfully in the country’s ongoing fight against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

The PEC reaffirmed the need to intensify campaigns for the introduction of the National Health Insurance (NHI) for universal quality healthcare coverage for all. Covid-19 has sharply revealed the urgent need for an integrated health care system that is adequately capacitated to serve society based on need rather than financial ability to pay.

The PEC also resolved that all Party structures must intensify practical activism in the health sector and strengthen links with community health workers and extend cooperation and assistance to health facilities from local clinics upward.

This will include the Party linking with the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) to coordinate efforts in defence of the frontline workers who serve our communities, including joining the Nehawu planned action in defence of the exploited Community Health Workers.

On Human Settlements

The PEC noted that the Free State Department of Human Settlements has been paralysed by rampant corruption and maladministration that has victimised poor people and left them without shelter.

The revelations at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture and the recent arrests of current and former senior political and administrative leadership of the department bears testimony to this reality.

The SACP Free State PEC reaffirms its support to law enforcement agencies in effecting arrests and calls for speedy prosecution, harsh sentences and immediate retrieval of lost public resources by all legal means from anyone found guilty.

It is true that the Zondo Commission has not yet concluded its work, however the total silence of the leader of the Alliance in the province and inaction of the provincial integrity committee, even when law enforcement agencies effected arrests, are alarming and worrying.

The PEC agreed that the Red October campaign for habitable human settlements must be integrated with the active campaigning against corruption in our province. In this regard, SACP Districts in the Free State will collate relevant information and initiate campaigns, working with communities, on various housing projects across the province that were left incomplete or are unjustifiably on hold.

This will include following up on evidence encountered during campaigning where houses were reportedly marked as built, completed and paid on government records whereas no structure exists physically on the ground.

On Hunger Eradication

The SACP Free State PEC acknowledged that the economic crisis in the country, made worse by the outbreak of Covid-19 and its associated lockdown restrictions, has deepened the crisis of poverty and hunger, primarily amongst working class and poor communities.

With many companies engaged in mass retrenchments, the socio- economic distress is not expected to improve. In light of these, the PEC reiterates the Central Committee call for the social relief of distress grant to be extended and for government to move speedily to implement universal income grant for the poor.

The PEC agreed that at a micro-level, families and communities must be encouraged to engage in food gardening, including engaging Government to provide the necessary support.

The growing practice in the Free State of the conversion of productive land into private estates and golf facilities or game farming needs to be confronted because they also affect food security and food pricing.

On Water

The crisis of provision of portable water has existed for a while in the Free State. The SACP led various campaigns, especially in Qwaqwa and Jaggersfontein for provision of sustainable quality drinking water.

Whilst the rate of government response has been very slow, we have seen the government provide integrated temporary water supply very slow, we have seen the government provide integrated temporary water supply at lightning speed with the outbreak of Covid-19, demonstrating that there is capacity to deliver where spheres of government work collaboratively.

The PEC agreed that most of the water supply challenges are associated with internal weaknesses within municipalities, particularly infrastructure decay. However, there appears to be an associated unwillingness to resolve the actual water supply challenges in favour of temporary tender-based water tankers.

The PEC agreed to intensify the community campaigns for sustainable piped supply of quality drinking water to all on taps, such as the ongoing campaign in Qwaqwa termed Metse Pompong. Understanding the economics of water and exposing any possible corruption is an integral part of this water campaign.

The PEC also noted that whereas areas such as Qwaqwa are struggling with water, a greater percentage of water supply to Gauteng includes water passing through Qwaqwa from Dams located within the Free State, such as Sterkfontein Dam.

The PEC agreed that part of sustainably resolving water supply challenges to areas such as Qwaqwa must include tapping into the national infrastructure funds for purposes of building infrastructure to intercept water from available water resources, in the interest of equitable distribution.

2. Defend the movement against wedge-drivers and consolidate the unity of the Alliance

The SACP PEC noted that the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) remains the most suitable vehicle for uniting the formerly oppressed and democratic forces, under the current concrete conditions, in pursuit of the democratic struggles for the liberation and transformation of society in our country. Each Alliance component has a role to play in the pursuit of the NDR, and the ANC has the added responsibility to lead the Alliance and society.

The SACP PEC agreed that in the Free State, the NDR is confronted with multiple challenges, setbacks and tendencies that severely hamper the unity of the movement. The view of the SACP in Free State is that the ANC in the province, as the leader of the Alliance, has not been sufficiently decisive in safeguarding the unity of the movement in the face of open activities and developments that weaken our movement and stands to plunge our state institutions in chaos.

On unity of the movement

The PEC expressed serious reservations at the silence of the ANC leadership in the province in the face of some developments of grave concern within the movement, in government and in society. These developments, when left unclarified, have far reaching implications on the unity of the movement, the Alliance and the image of the ANC in the considerations of society.

The SACP PEC is extremely alarmed by an institutionalised factional organisation in the province calling itself “RET Forces”. The PEC views this entity as a splinter organisation of wedge drivers, existing within, and organising in the name of, the ANC.

It is a splinter organisation because it has its own emblem, flags/banners and structured. In the Free State province RET Forces organises with the name and face of the Secretary General of the ANC, and in its public pronouncements on national platforms, it claims former ANC President Jacob Zuma as its father, the father of RET.

The SACP believes this entity, with its divisive activities, stands in contrast to our understanding and characterisation of the ANC as a unitary organisation. The SACP in the Free State categorically rejects this political project and will accordingly engage the ANC in the province to expressly disassociate the movement from it.

On Provincial Alliance Summit

The PEC welcomed the commitment of the Alliance and endorsed the work of the Alliance Secretariat to convene a Provincial Alliance Summit. This is an important organisational platform of the Alliance for democratic consensus-seeking consultation, decision making, collective leadership and accountability.

The PEC adopted the framework worked out by the Alliance Secretariat, which is intended to place the interests of the people at the centre of the agenda of the summit. The SACP will submit several key issues to the summit and actively participate to shape an Alliance- led programmatic response to the various issues, challenges and opportunities across the province.