Development, Part 10
The Party Goes Local
The final part of this course on Development is concerned with the building of the mass collective Subject of History, starting with the main agent of such organisation, the communist party, in this case, the South African Communist Party, the SACP.
The SACP is in the process of converting its branches to “Voting District” branches. The SACP is also determined to achieve a 500 000 membership by 2014, or roughly one per cent of the South African population.
Urban Voting Districts in South Africa contain some 3,000 voters on average located within a radius of some 7,5 km of each Voting District’s single voting station. Rural Voting Districts accommodate some 1,200 voters located within a radius of some 10 km of the voting station. There are normally several, often four or five, Voting Districts in each electoral ward.
SACP Party Branches are supposed to have a minimum of 25 members according to its Constitution, which has not changed. The same rules apply to the new situation.
The next item in this last part of the Development Series will focus on the ANC’s Imvuselelo Campaign, and the third and final instalment will focus on SADTU’s recruitment, which in turn is in parallel with recruitment by other trade unions within and outside of COSATU, our federation, and with other mass organisations.
Localisation of the Alliance
What are the implications of all this recruitment? What qualitative changes may arise from the envisaged quantitative increase?
The National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance has been called “tripartite”, referring to the SACP - the vanguard party of the working class, the ANC – the mass, class-alliance, unity-in-action liberation movement, and COSATU, the federation of mass industrial trade unions. But in addition to these, the historic “civic” movement SANCO has a status as the fourth member of the Alliance.
The qualitative change which can be expected if the SACP succeeds in creating a substantial number of branches at Voting District level; and if the ANC is able to consolidate its 100-member-plus-per-ward branch structure; and if the local structures of the Trade Union movement can become similarly well-defined; is that the localisation of the Alliance will become a practical possibility.
For many years past, sundry expressions of disappointment been heard saying that the Alliance does not function at local level. The main stumbling block to this local functioning of the Alliance was never a lack of intention but rather the lack of equivalent basic structures across the three main organisations. The SACP especially was apt to be patchy in terms of its coverage on the ground, with hardly any organisational correspondence to the ANC at branch level. SACP Districts have also hardly talked to ANC Regions or to COSATU locals. Only at Provincial and National levels have the three structures been equivalent across all three of the main Alliance organisations.
The coming increase in membership of the SACP and the ANC will mean that it will be possible to populate viable parallel structures all the way down to branch level. This in turn will open up the prospect of a renewed relevance for SANCO, which can be the locus of combination with other mass organisation, of women, of religious people, and more.
The implications for the possibility of conscious, all-round development of the country in the fullest sense are profound.
The downloadable document is a compilation of the Commission Report on Building a Strong SACP from a Conference of Commissars, and notes on forming Voting District Branches, including relevant extracts from the SACP Constitution.
- The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Building a strong SACP, Forming a VD Branch.
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