Thursday 23 June 2011

What colour is our flag? Red or JZ? - A critique of the SACP approach on the JZ matter

by Mazibuko K. Jara, Deputy National Secretary, Young Communist League, November 2005

1. Introduction

A famous social activist changes the words of The Red Flag to provide a jocular and yet effective critique of the strategy, tactics and programme of our South African Communist Party: he sings “The people’s flag is palest pink, it is not as red as some would think. The working class can kiss my ass. To show we are still sincere, we will criticise GEAR once a year”. If this jocular criticism has some truthful import, what could be the objective basis for it? The criticism calls for some fresh introspection in light of our positioning and role as the Communist Party in the Jacob Zuma (JZ) saga.
What explains the Party’s approach and conduct over the JZ matter? Is it a matter of a mere momentary lapse or error of judgment? Or is it a reflection of a deeper strategic and programmatic crisis in our Party? Alternatively, are we using the JZ matter for our own socialist goals? How?

This paper seeks to demonstrate the cumulative weakening of socialist strategy, analysis, organisation and alternatives by three features: our role on the JZ matter, the conceptualisation of our campaigns and our effective absence from ongoing class struggles in South Africa today. Hopefully, the paper contributes to the opening of space for us as a Communist Party to honestly and objectively confront our weaknesses, draw appropriate lessons and rectify our mistakes. The issues raised in the paper also indirectly raise key questions about our day-to-day tactics as the Communist Party. What calculations and considerations inform our day-to-day tactics? How do they relate to how we struggle to achieve our short- and long-term objectives?

What is the paper’s understanding of Party strategy on the JZ saga? Firstly, the Party has shown some lukewarm defence of bourgeois democratic rights and institutions whilst also attacking them as part of the political defence of JZ. Secondly, we have also raised issues about the isolation of a left and working class agenda in the ANC. Thirdly, we seem to have uncritically linked up with various questionable business interests in the pro-JZ movement. Fourthly, all this happens when we have not effectively addressed and built effective communist activism around ongoing worker and community struggles. Linked to this is the current weakness of our own campaigns to attack the structural causes of working class marginalisation. Finally, a major problem remains our continued failure to provide critical socialist analysis and positions on the arms deal.


The legal side of the Party approach correctly argues that JZ, as all of us are entitled to, must have a fair trial, albeit, under the current largely untransformed justice system. Indeed this right is one of the key features of bourgeois liberal democracy which we, as communists, must defend as a matter of principle. As South African communists we must be for the rule of law, equality before the law, due process and fairness. This means that the Party must publicly speak out and defend JZ’s claim of this right not because he is a person of any “stature”. In contrast, talking in terms such as “someone of JZ’s stature”, as we have, problematically implies that some are more equal than others. This approach undermines the principle of equality before the law and promotes the cult of personality by elevating leaders above the masses of ordinary people.

As a matter of principle, JZ has been charged and he must face a court of law (as different from a court of justice) in which he must have a fair trial irrespective of who he is. This is a straightforward democratic standpoint which, however, is different from mounting a political defence. Indeed, the Party must insist that bourgeois democratic institutions must operate within the law and must not be used for any political agenda by any interests or factions in government and the ANC. They must also not be demagogically questioned by unprincipled populism. Our questioning of bourgeois democratic institutions has not been principle but about bolstering the claim of a political conspiracy against and justification of the consequent political defence of JZ

As communists we must not undermine the importance of bourgeois democratic institutions in the class struggle. If we say “down with the Scorpions”, we may attract essentially those questioning the rule of law for their own personal, selfish and reactionary reasons. These may attract convicted felons like Tony Yengeni, tax evaders, corrupt state officials under investigation, unscrupulous business operators, a government minister using bureaucratic power to defend incorrect decisions and so on.

We have to ask the question of who loses most when there is no rule of law under capitalism: look at a Congo without the rule of law, look at who suffers most in countries without even a parliament. After all, the creation of a democratic and constitutional dispensation in South Africa has made political stability possible where apartheid and other atrocities can be brought to book. It is under the rule of law in South Africa that poor people can take their own government to court in order to assert their right to housing or point to its failures.

To paraphrase Lenin’s formulation in State and Revolution, a bourgeois democratic framework, unlike fascism or no rule of law, provides the best conditions under capitalism under which the working class can hope to struggle for its short- and long-term interests. The interest of the Communist Party in critically defending bourgeois democratic rights and institutions is not to meekly accept their capitalist content but about the creation of fair conditions & minimum material existence for the working class first and foremost. But such conditions will always be undermined as long as society remains capitalist and anti-systemic measures are not taken, as an outcome of popular struggles, to transform these institutions. In this regard, the Party must take responsibility for the slow progress in achieving a pro-poor and anti-systemic transformation of the justice system which is part of the post-apartheid capitalist state we have in South Africa.

As communists we must critique the bourgeois liberal justice system from the standpoint of thorough-going structural transformation of society. This approach is different from throw-away remarks against this or that reactionary judge for short-term political gain particularly when progressive forces have done very little to actually put a revolutionary working class imprint in the justice system post-1994.

Even under socialism, the democratic aspects of the very bourgeois democratic institutions will be critical to maintain healthy tensions, checks and balances of the political and economic system. But the socialist project must seek to enhance these democratic aspects and overcome their objective limitation by a capitalist order. The executive must have separate powers from parliament, the judiciary and other state institutions. Ordinary people need to be able to check and balance the actions of the executive. Parliament must effectively and substantively hold the executive accountable. Effective working class democracy must be extended right into the judiciary too. Taking useful lessons from the errors of Stalinism and bureaucratised national democratic projects (Zimbabwe being key), as communists in South Africa we need to think hard and creatively about the importance of building pluralities and multiplicities of spaces for the building socialism. There are many other aspects that we need to debate in this regard.

In other words, this paper’s approach to bourgeois democratic institutions recognises that the form and content of institutions of class rule may be historically derived from post-colonial national democratic or liberal bourgeois traditions under the capitalist mode of production. The paper then uses the logic of the Party programme to conclude that it is possible, as part of broader class struggles, to build socialist institutions on the “interstices of capitalist institutions”. Given the current balance of class forces in SA, perhaps there maybe more to institutions than their bourgeois conventional form. This is to say that because our democratic breakthrough predicated on the so-called "reciprocal siege" of aligned blocks of class forces (though continuously shifting) therefore the content or the essence of societal institutions does not have to be automatically bourgeois, even though ideologically the latter has an upper hand to date. If that were the case, then there would be no need for a theoretical and practical attention to the concept of a developmental state for example. In our society, these institutions in and of themselves are not inherently and unchallengeably anti-working class. Thus, the classical Marxist idea that the superstructure reflects the base may not apply automatically and crudely in the contexts of peripheral societies where the democratic project has historically been defined by working class and even socialist forces. These arguments about how to approach bourgeois democratic institutions are only an outline of preliminary thoughts around the meaning and content of socialist democracy.

In the immediate period, there is another grave matter: what if JZ is indeed guilty? Has he taken our leadership into confidence about the nature of his relationship with Shaik and others if there is indeed such a relationship? By engaging in the tactics we currently apply, are building up a basis and case to label the judge racist and reactionary if JZ is found guilty?


According to the Party and COSATU, JZ, like left and working class forces in the broad liberation movement, is subject to a deliberate political agenda which seeks to marginalise left and working class forces in order to promote the interests of a small elite capitalist faction within the ANC. Indeed, the left and working class forces would be naïve not to understand the basis and programme of such a class project. However, it is questionable whether a political defence of JZ represents the best strategy and tactics through which to conduct a political and class struggle against such a project. The isolation and marginalisation of a left working class agenda in the ANC is not for the courts to decide: it must be subject to ideological and political contestations that the Party must lead within and outside the ANC. That today JZ may quote communist texts must not ever blind the Communist Party from a proper class analysis of the class project he represents.

Can JZ really be regarded as part of left and working class forces in the ANC? JZ’s own role in the isolation and marginalisation of a working class programme in the ANC requires scrutiny. Can JZ really provide breathing space for a left project as it is sometimes argued and implied? How will JZ open the space for the left? How has he opened space for left up to now? Does the socialist project require prominent individuals to provide space? Is this not displaying a lack of faith in the latent capacity of the Party and the masses and the role of the class struggle? Indeed, individuals play an important role in revolutions. But then, what was JZ's role in rightwards shift of the ANC? The case for the political defence of JZ must still be made from a coherent and strategic communist standpoint. Up to now, such a convincing case has not been made. Even when such a case is made convincingly it must be linked to a political programe. What political programme does JZ stand for? What political programme are we seeking to push and win by supporting JZ?

Talking about breathing space in the ANC confines the Party’s strategic thrust to the ANC terrain only and effectively blinds us to other strategic terrains and fronts of struggle. This thrust means that Party strategy is contingent on ANC processes and can potentially negate Party independence. By unwittingly hedging our socialist objectives to the fate of JZ, the Party can unconsciously attach and link the Party to a project perhaps similar and even worse, in some respects, to the dominant one currently in control of ANC and state machinery we are critiquing.

As a public figure, JZ has taken what can be described as controversial and conservative standpoints on gender equality (polygamy, virginity testing and sexuality), economic policy, ethnicity and pandering to the interests of the traditional and undemocratic elite in rural areas. It is not clear what role he has played in government and as an ANC leader during key moments of working class struggle on economic policy. He may have called for alliance forums to discuss differences but is this representative of a principled and consistent political champion of a left working class agenda? His lifestyle also raises largely forgotten and ignored questions about the lifestyle of leaders and the subsequent social distance with our mass base. Is he indeed linked politically, commercially and personally to Shaik and other problematic business interests? If these links exist, what should poor and working people make of such links? What is his understanding of the role of theory and intellectuals in the struggle given his reported attacks on intellectuals?

The above paragraph has controversial formulations which may be read to mean that JZ has pandered to backward tendencies and institutions. The controversial nature of the formulations opens the whole paper to an attack and possible dismissal as a whole. Such a response is typical of the dominant siege mentality in the pro-JZ movement where every criticism of JZ is given a formulaic response - "conspiracy to destroy Msholozi" and the like. It is the purpose of this paper to understand the basis for such an un-Marxist approach to critical engagement.

For the Party, the most important characteristic of JZ is that he is a former communist who lost confidence in socialism. He left the Party at a time of ideological crisis as part of an ANC leadership which questioned the relevance of socialist strategy, analysis and organisation. This must not be used as a grudge against him but it is an important fact of history which may or may not define his own political trajectory. Others in this group which left the Party have been instrumental in the marginalisation of working class interests in the ANC. What role did JZ play in this regard? This is not a personal attack on individuals but is a necessary part of honest communist analysis of the ANC and the state it leads. As a bloc, they have represented a largely conservative, unprincipled, anti-working class, anti-democratic bloc, narrow and primitive accumulation interests. This political project has exposed the ANC to various capitalist fractions such that it is no longer a joke to talk about a Brett Kebble left, an Imvume caucus, a Safika tendency, and so on. As a result, it is not conspiratorial to imagine these factions seeking to finance and promote various succession scenarios and leadership collectives right across and at all levels of the alliance and the state. Active match-fixing is taking place in broad daylight! It is not clear what position JZ takes in this game/in relation to this project. To reaffirm, what is clear is that capitalists have vested interests in this match-fixing and will invest money to ensure particular outcomes. How is our contribution as communists to the JZ campaign helping to expose this strategically, objectively and truthfully as opposed to conspiratorial analysis? The normal argument is that the political forces attacking JZ are these capitalists referred to here. It flows from this analysis that JZ therefore is anti-capitalist and pro-working class. This paper does not agree with this formulation. We need a more deeper and strategic analysis of the ANC, the state, the role and interests of the the capitalist class in the ANC and the JZ project itself.

The dominant political project in the ANC has also actively sought to dislodge socialist and working class forces in the ANC. It has delegitimised opponents and critics with the labels of “ultra-left”, “counter-revolutionaries”, “apartheid spy”, “distant intellectuals” and “paper leaders”. Communist leaders have been subject to isolation, attacks and disciplinary procedures. This is what the 2002 ANC Briefing Notes, the attacks on working class struggles and other political interventions were about. This project thrives on raising conspiracy theories to infinity. By its nature such a political project has no pretence to respect bourgeois democratic institutions or democratic practice. This holds horrific possibilities of comrades being framed with brazen impunity. If stakes were to be higher, the serious abuse of state institutions for political agendas is not unimaginable. In such conditions, an ANC and government presidency is literally burdened with millions of debts. What does this mean? Will we have a lame duck president beholden to all the debts or a ruthless Bonapartist driving a clear class project? Will the various capitalist fractions and interests tolerate a lame duck president? Will they tolerate a pro-working class president? Will they seek to use the presidency and the rest of the state to drive theirs accumulation interests?

In other words, questions have to be asked therefore of the conduct of government ministers, including JZ, in developing relations with sections of business. This is not to judge JZ before his trial but to raise principled and troubling questions without any fear or favour. We must struggle for openness and transparency in political conduct. We must ask questions and get answers about the funding and business activities of all political leaders, the ANC and all political parties.

Has the JZ saga opened space for the left?

Some comrades are beginning to argue that working class anger over JZ has deepened the crisis of the neo-liberal project in the ANC and government. This may be the case but it says a lot about our ineffectiveness as a principled political factor in the alliance. There is a genuine sense of proletarian anger and resentment against, not personal marginalisation, but objective processes of capitalist alienation and economic marginalisation. This anger has found expression in the 100% JZ slogans and campaign. There is genuine and heart-warming popular support for JZ. Poor and working people identify with JZ partly because of his roots, background, charisma, feel and the fact that he did make huge sacrifices together with many many leaders of the anti apartheid struggle led by the ANC. Structurally, in JZ poor and working people are finding an outlet of feeling and struggle their economic alienation and marginalisation. But the genuine proletarian anger has also been fuelled by our own role in the mobilisation particularly in the KZN province. The extent to which this mobilisation has gone has excluded in the activist and mass consciousness the real possibility that JZ may be found guilty. Hopefully, he is not. Some Party and YCL comrades are even providing 100% uncritical support by saying “I will be with JZ till the end” thus betraying the need for critical analysis at all times. In other words, our own mobilisation has opened up the real danger that the KZN province in particular may be open to a deep political and social crisis if JZ is found guilty. For our political structures this may mean complete demobilisation and demoralisation. Such an effect on our political structures will be a significant weakening we cannot dare afford in the KZN province in particular.

But, perhaps predictably, this proletarian anger and support for JZ has not been critical of JZ’s class position and interests. It has also shown the dangers of appeals to ethnic identity, mass blindness and faith in individual charisma and cult of personality. As the Party, we are not providing strategic and ideological leadership harnessing this anger into a generalised strategic offensive against capitalist interests, forces and policies. It is difficult to see how the Party’s conduct over JZ advances and harnesses working class struggles.

If our objective is to transform and democratise the ANC then we must not fudge issues through the JZ matter. If there are problems in the alliance and working class interests are being pushed back by other interests, why was the Party prepared to push the alliance to the brink on the JZ matter and not on economic policy for example? Was this part of an effort to influence ANC until the Cuban option becomes possible as we do not (hopefully yet) seek to liquidate other class forces? Or was it an attempt to use the JZ matter to determine succession in the ANC using the Party debate on whether it should contest elections in its own right as a pressure point?

We must consistently take and fight for principled positions even in opposition to the ANC. Latching onto the 100% JZ movement, we stray away from our strategic role. Our Party’s leadership collective is challenged to clarify to our activist and mass base how it elaborates and chooses our day-to-day tactical options in respect of the ANC and other key political questions. In strategic terms, we must also confront the weaknesses of our strategy insofar as it confines our strategic thrust and role to the ANC alone possibly at the expense of other terrains and fronts of struggle.


One of the key functions of the Party centre is to democratically unite the Party behind principled socialist analysis and action on all key political and economic questions. Is the Party centre holding? The strategic confusion over JZ and the current public posture and role of the Party can potentially lead to massive polarisation and weakening of its leadership at all levels and confusion of its activist and mass base.

Massive resources and energy are spent by an insufficiently strong Party in the mass campaign in support of JZ whenever he appears in court & other public for a, and through fundraising for the Friends of JZ Trust. If there is a case for the political defence of JZ, is this the best way to go about it? This has the effect of displacing other more principled and strategic programmes and struggles. This may sound obvious but a Communist Party caught in the internecine strife over JZ is not a Communist Party which will effectively mobilise the mass of the workers and the poor to challenge and defeat capitalism in South Africa. Knowing this, capitalist banks, agrarian capital and custodians of neo-liberal economic policies in government must be sitting quite pretty and comfortable. A Communist Party so involved in the JZ defence campaign cannot possibly implement its own programme.

For a significant period now, the Communist Party had begun to provide a moral pole of reference for workers, poor people, sections of the intelligentsia, the middle class and even some sections of capital uncertain about the future. Critical ingredients in the mix which explain this growth have been our principled refusal to demagogically play the “race card”, our theoretical seriousness (“intellectualism” a la JZ), our encouragement of open debate, our critique of neo-liberal economic policies and our increasingly confident assertion of our own class and ideological identity through, mass campaigns and programmes. This was built through a lot of internal work and political struggle to strengthen our vision, strategy, resources and capacity. Amongst other things, this organisational renewal has led to increased activism, a positive public profile, and the moderately successful campaigns on land, banks and access to basic services which have not yet mounted a serious challenge to South African capitalism. All these developments still have their own problems and weaknesses but overall they have been positive.

But now our conduct on the JZ saga has already significantly reversed the potential of all these achievements. The JZ saga is denigrating the organisational and political capital we have accumulated. How much time and effort has been lost dealing with the JZ saga in all Communist Party structures? What signals are we sending to the public about our positions on corruption, the rule of law and public confidence in state institutions? Can we effectively and strategically engage with a range of forces on key political and economic questions having been tainted by the JZ saga? Do we still have strategic leverage over other class forces? How do we explain and understand being in the same camp as primitive accumulation interests? How do we justify getting into bed with such a coalition of irrational and self-interested forces? We have also tended to be emotive, and not motive, forces. How do we explain our public positions and involvement in what can be argued to be an internal ANC matter in which we obviously have an interest? How should the Party conduct itself in internal ANC matters which are of strategic interest to the working class? What is the level of strategic confusion in our activist and mass base on all these issues?

Interestingly, at the same time as the JZ saga was reaching a crescendo, the country witnessed a new flaring up of local community protests against poor service delivery, a general strike against unemployment, bolder worker struggles for a living wage, and growing solidarity and collaboration between various left forces. Where have we been and what was our role in all these important working class struggles and developments? Despite having an official campaign of basic services to all, there is no evidence of Communist Party activism in local community protests. Instead, the Communist Party was publicly quoted expressing quite uninformed concern against the Western Cape Coalition Against and Unemployment at the expense of contributing effectively to building and leading a “popular movement for transformation” as per our programmes at least since 1995. To an extent, the JZ saga has left the Party little time and space to play its strategic role in these struggles and developments.

The case of the YCL is sad, to say the least. The YCL should be known across South Africa for its campaigns and activities on free education, access to HIV/AIDS treatment for young people, violence against young women and so on, and not for its reckless and apolitical statements on the JZ matter. Through its recklessness, the YCL has also undermined the possibility of any left strategy in seeking to influence the outcomes of the 2007 ANC Conference. The YCL focus, energy and activism, considering that it is only two years in its re-establishment, should be in profiling its political programme, strategically positioning itself within youth politics, developing and consolidating existing structures and establishing new ones.

Corruption and the class struggle
It is not to over-exaggerate the case to state that corruption is one of the most serious and important front of the class struggle in South Africa today. The point is not merely to moralise about corruption from a distance but to provide a consistent class analysis of corruption. We need to expose the strategic incapacity of an aspirant bureaucratic bourgeoisie and the already existing reality of such class interests having captured the state and the ANC through patronage, corruption and anti-working class policies. This principled approach to corruption is different from opportunistic, politically based and factional prosecution of corruption.

Firstly, a particular kind of ANC is a key vehicle politically for new and old capital to accumulate. And thus various Business Day editorials consistently calling on President Thabo Mbeki to reason and compromise with all fractions of capital in the ANC. Sections of established capital may want a weakening of the ANC as a coherent force. This may allow capital to have much more external influence over the ANC and government which may be limited by a coherent ANC. Even the DA sees this. Various strategies have been deployed: co-option through BEE for example, promises of investment dependent on the ANC delivering a particular policy package, corruption and so on.

Typical of emergent fractions of capital, many of them cannot be productive and develop organically. There is no land to dispossess, no virgin mines to claim – the entire structure of the economy is owned by established white capital with links to global capital from over hundred years of capitalist development. Because of this reality, the state is therefore a key avenue for primitive accumulation opening up possibilities for the control and abuse of political office. Key in its accumulation strategy are blue-chip state-led projects such as Mozal, the arms deal and transport concessions. In essence, we are witnessing a process of parasitic crony capitalism fusing political/state office with accumulation interests opening space for corruption, narrow BEE, opportunism and patronage.

Given the small size of the cake over which there is competition, it is not surprising that intra-capitalist rivalry can be intense and lead to corruption and serious marginalisation of some fractions. In this competition, some lose out: anecdotal evidence suggests that Kebble, Shaik and others have lost out to other fractions. At a particular stage in this intra-capitalist positioning, there may arise a situation when there will be no tolerance of strong working class forces. What will the Party do when a more brutal and structural fight breaks out between various fractions of capital in the ANC? In such circumstances, the bourgeois fractions may realise however deep their divisions they can still reconcile in order to deal with working class interests which threaten their collective interests.

Throughout the JZ saga this year, this communist analysis of corruption has been blunted by the posture the Party has taken on the matter. This lowering of the guard unwittingly reinforces the hand of parasitic capitalism as if public accountability and democratic principles are for sale. The biggest loser in corruption is the working class, because it is their jobs and developmental interests that are always on the line. Given this analysis, our conduct effectively amounts to fronting for a defeated capitalist fraction instead of exploiting these intra-capitalist fractions in advancing working class struggles.

For the isolated fractions of capital, the pro-JZ movement is a bargaining chip. Those with the most to benefit from this movement are those petty bourgeois opportunists who lost out in ANC and government positions, others who know their illegal activities may attract attention from the legal system, and other disgruntled elements. Indeed, working class forces may strike up temporary alliances with fractions of capital against bigger or foreign capital. In such conditions, one of the most critical communist tasks is an unflinching critical analysis of, and engagement against the agenda of such a vacillating fraction of capital. In such conditions, the Communist Party should not allow its class analysis of the basis and conduct of these fractions of capital to be blunted by populism as it has been the case up to now. There is something wrong when the left in the alliance finds itself uncritically on the same side as emerging capitalist Don Mkhwanazi, corrupt businessman Schabir Shaik, and an ANC Youth League suckled on the largesse of the late Brett Kebble. What can possibly unite us with these elements? Some of these elements are also known for pushing the line that fighting corruption requires a political process: a euphemism for diffusing and deflecting a principled struggle against corruption which is far from what a communist approach should be.

The arms deal and imperialism

The JZ saga has also revealed the paucity of the Party’s analysis of the arms deal including whether the arms deal is in the best interests of the revolution. Key principles for the Party in this regard would have included public participation, the role of parliament, questions about what determines budget priorities, the gambling of the country’s development trajectory to arms dealers, questions about control of the armed forces as a security apparatus of a capitalist state, the interests of imperialism in arms deals and the corrupt nature of all arms deals in the world. Had the Party done this kind of analysis when the arms deal was being negotiated, we would have been better positioned to have a principled and programmatic framework in response to all recent developments on the arms deal including the JZ saga. A communist analysis of the arms deal cannot be avoided any longer.


Enough diagnosis. What are the options and key issues in the way forward for us as the Communist Party?

Firstly, serious and objective introspection must take place on the whole JZ saga: what was our aim in conducting ourselves in the manner we did over JZ? Still keeping with the strategic approach of working in the ANC and the alliance we must strategise and act now to ensure that, as far as possible, left forces can strategically and positively influence the ANC 2007 Conference in respect of policy issues, the state of the ANC and the leadership collective which emerges from this Conference. We must do the same on government policy including a review of the arms deal. This requires the Party to confront the arms deal once and fro all. However, the validity of the alliance approach is belied by the objective impact of political and economic processes, and the subjective isolation of left and working class forces from key decisions and processes. Thanks to an ANC government and its policies, South Africa is now a relatively stable capitalist country where private property rights and profit maximisation are guaranteed and sacrosanct.

Party introspection also requires serious consideration of whether there is a case for the political defence of JZ. There must be space opened up for democratic debate in all structures and at all levels. Such an opportunity can be used to deepen our strategic unity, analysis and programmatic thrust. If needs be, we must be prepared to publicly, yet strategically, retreat and reorient our strategy on the JZ matter and related intra-alliance discussions and processes. In this context, the Communist Party must pay serious attention and give practical content to its own socialist moral renewal through actively, consistently and strategically attacking the cult of personality, centralisation of power, the intolerance of difference, corruption, the ever-growing social distance between the leaders and the people, and anti-poor policies.

Thirdly, the Communist Party has to consolidate its own campaigns in order that they are informed and shaped by an analysis of the structural causes of poverty, unemployment and alienation. This means that our conceptualisation and execution of our campaigns must not be reformist but must be directed at these structural causes. This consolidation must be linked to building links and scope to work with worker structures, local communities and social movements. The full logic of this means that the Party should be consistently in the heart of COSATU-led worker struggles, community struggles and all progressive social movements. Local struggles have the potential to be turned into organs of working class power facilitating bottom-up and grassroots-oriented direct democracy by availing to the working ckass spaces, platforms and avenues, and strategies, through which they can challenge the establishment of the dominant class, place demands on power and contest its hegemony. This is a fundamental material condition for the Party’s strategic objective of winning hegemony, influence and power across society. All these approaches are critical in reasserting left influence in the ANC so long as this is linked to active political work to build other political options and possibilities outside the ANC and the alliance. In doing all this, the Party must seek to link current struggles to the long-term goal of defeating capitalism and building a socialist alternative in South Africa. This must also be used to rebuild the political capital our approach on the JZ saga seems to have thrown away.

Finally, the Communist Party has an opportunity to use its political and organisational preparations for its 12th Congress due in 2007 to revisit all key issues of strategy, programme and tactics including the debate on what must be done to increase the voice, power, resources and influences of poor and working people over all aspects of South African society including the contestation of elections by a working class socialist party, hopefully the SACP. This requires continuously and positively asserting our independence and who we should be. We should be a fairly well-organised Communist Party in a post-apartheid capitalist country where there is still massive public affinity for socialism. We must build a compact, portable and dynamic Communist Party ready for any eventuality in the struggle. This is the only way that we can effectively rebut the criticism of our strategy, tactics and programme, and still reclaim the proud traditions of the Red Flag: “The people’s flag is deepest red… though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the red flag flying here… we must not change its colour now … to bear it onward till we fall… this song shall be our parting hymn”.