ONLY THE TACTICS DIFFER
A PROPER understanding of the dual membership and leadership of the African National Congress and South African Communist Party or their leagues should be located within a proper understanding of the Mass Democratic Movement alliance.
What currently unites the ANC, SACP and Cosatu is the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), which seeks to resolve the apartheid power relations that were premised on race, gender and class through the emancipation of the black majority and Africans in particular.
The strategic direction and vision of the ANC, and therefore its youth league, is the attainment of the NDR objectives. This role is neither class neutral nor ideologically elastic or vulnerable to multi-directional expansions.
It is instead based on a firm ideological disposition, which correctly says that private ownership of the key means of production (strategic sectors of the economy) does not present a viable case for the total emancipation of the black majority, and Africans in particular, from both economic and social bondage.
While pursuing socialist orientated policies and principles, the tactical direction of the SACP is also the attainment of the NDR objectives and its political programme, the Freedom Charter.
This, the SACP believes, lays a firm foundation for an uninterrupted transition to socialism. The alliance therefore exists to attain the aims and objectives of the Freedom Charter.
In the recent past, when sharp political differences arose between alliance partners, there was never any diversion from these core principles in the alliance.
In all gatherings and interactions in the SACP, Young Communist League, ANC Youth League and ANC, the central point of emphasis has been the Charter.
There is, however, ideological tendencies in the ANC that seek to altogether shrink the role and validity of Marxism-Leninism into insignificance and should be rejected.
But also in the communist movement, there are strong anti-ANC tendencies, which somewhat and sadly believe that the route to socialism should not be the NDR, but the communist and working class movement contesting elections as soon as possible.
For the durability of the alliance, both these tendencies should be rejected.
As part of its basic organisational principles, the SACP constitution compels all "members active in fraternal organisations (such as ANC, ANCYL and Cosatu) or in any sector of the mass movement [to] have a duty to set an example of loyalty, hard work and zeal in the performance of their duties and shall be bound by the discipline and decisions of such organisations and movement".
This clause of the SACP's constitution further proscribes any form of participation in party caucuses within such organisations. The SACP adopted these principles because it understood its dynamic and revolutionary presence within the national liberation movement.
This principle altogether distinguishes between comrades who are communists in the ANC and ANC members who are communists.
Communists in the ANC are forever seeking a mandate both on elective and policy politics from the SACP and reduce themselves in the ANC to being representatives of the SACP within the ANC.
This tendency amounts to a faction in the ANC and peddles a misperception that whoever does not support silently endorsed SACP candidates in ANC-elective politics is generally anti-communist.
ANC members who are communists adhere to the organisational decisions and discipline of the ANC and always set an example of loyalty, hard work and zeal in the performance of their duties. This is what guides our participation in the ANC and ANCYL and we always use Marxism-Leninism to analyse society and also as a guide to action.
Because we are bound by these principles we are forever guided by principles of democratic centralism in the ANCYL and communicate with precision all its decisions.
When the ANCYL leadership collective identifies a problematic politico-ideological tendency within the SACP, we have to communicate such observations and such is neither ill-discipline, nor anti-communist.
The SACP has historically appreciated this political principle to the extent of placing it in the constitution as a basic organisational principle.
The growing anti-ANC ideological tendency in the communist movement will not be able to appreciate this principle because the conviction of this anti-ANC ideological tendency, is that anything ANC is associated with capitalism, bling, corruption and insensitivity to the struggles of the working class and the poor.
These are the tendencies that should be correctly diagnosed and could help to simplify the political and organisational relations between the ANC and SACP.
Politics that define comrades who are against an election or re-election of certain candidates to the leadership of the ANC as being anti-communist should be rejected. Such politics reduce being communist into individual and factional loyalty within the ANC, and such is proscribed by the SACP constitution.
As ANC members who are communists and not communists in the ANC, we should retain the right to robustly engage with ANC processes and identify from within the ANC, cadres who are best suited to lead the ANC.
Mortgaging such a responsibility is treacherous to the true values of the revolutionary alliance.
lThe writer is the ANC Youth League's national executive committee member (spokesperson and head of political publication) and a Young Communist League national committee member.