29 June 2015

First international anti-Imperialist congress, 1920

National Democratic Revolution, Part 2a

First international anti-Imperialist congress, 1920

The 2CCI was followed within two months by the famous “Congress of the Peoples of the East”, in Baku, convened by the Communist International in what is now the Republic of Azerbaijan [Picture: delegates to the Congress of the Peoples of the East]. Its manifesto (click the link below) makes very clear the strategic confrontation that existed following the end of First World War hostilities, and the effective and menacing British Imperial victory, as they saw it.

This was the first international congress of oppressed nations against colonialism. It effectively launched the anti-colonial struggle on a new basis that bore major fruit less than thirty years later in the 1940s, with the independence of India and the victory of the communist revolutionaries in China.

In 1920, the Inter-Imperialist World War had only recently come to an end. The congress said:

“Peoples of the East! Six years ago there broke out in Europe a colossal, monstrous slaughter…

“It was fought for the partition of the world, and chiefly for the partition of Asia, of the East. It was fought to decide who was to rule over the countries of Asia and whose slaves the peoples of the East should be. It was fought to decide whether the British or the German capitalists should skin the peasants and workers of Turkey, Persia and Egypt.”

The conference manifesto goes on to detail the threat that the victorious British posed towards the Peoples of the East in their many countries, large and small. We know by now that this manifesto was not mistaken. It concludes:

“Long live the unity of all the peasants and workers of the East and of the West, the unity of all the toilers, all the oppressed and exploited. Long live the battle headquarters of this united movement — the Communist International! May the holy war of the peoples of the East and of the toilers of the whole world against imperialist Britain burn with unquenchable fire!”

The Soviet Union is no more, yet the profound change in the entire world that is the consequence of the anti-colonial movement for independence and sovereignty of nations is still with us, in the form of nearly 200 independent nations, most of which did not exist, as such, at the time of the 2CCI and the Congress of the Peoples of the East in 1920, and most of which are by now national-democratic republics.

For one example of how quickly the anti-colonial movement took hold, and how close to our home this movement quickly came, the Red Trade Union International (Profintern) of the Comintern, founded one year after the 2CCI, in 1921, had by 1930 organised (in Berlin) an International Conference of Negro Workers that included Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya as well as Moses Kotane, W. Thibedi and Albert Nzula of South Africa.

We should also not forget to mention the founding of the Communist Party of South Africa under the auspices of the Comintern in 1921 in this connection, because the admittance of the CPSA was conditional upon its acceptance of the Comintern’s agreed policies, which included the NDR. Therefore the CPSA’s support of class alliance for national liberation and national democracy was not something that was added on later, but was fully present at the birth of the CPSA.

Another example of the swift, strong effect of the Russian Revolution and the Comintern on South Africa is the Black Republic Thesis of 1928 and all that went with it. We will come to it in the next part of this NDR Generic Course. The important thing to note here is that the CPSA’s basic commitment to the NDR had already existed for many years prior to the Black Republic Thesis.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Manifesto, Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East.

28 June 2015

Genesis of the NDR

National Democratic Revolution, Part 2

Genesis of the NDR

The Hammer and Sickle emblem of the communists, invented in 1917, is a symbol of class alliance between two distinct classes: proletarian workers, and peasants.

Peasants often work hard and they are often poor, but they are not the same as the working proletariat of the towns. Nor are they the same as the rural proletariat.

So the hammer and the sickle are not two equal things. They represent two different things, allied.

Practical class politics is always a matter of alliance, and in different circumstances, different alliances are called for. Communists commonly regard an alliance between workers and peasants as normal. But proletarian parties have also made class alliances with parts of the petty-bourgeoisie or national bourgeoisie, against feudalism or against colonialism.

Alliances are normal and necessary, in order to isolate and thereby to defeat an adversary, and equally, to avoid being isolated and defeated by the adversary. Therefore, the question of the appropriate alliances in the anti-colonial and anti-Imperialist struggle was bound to arise.

The origin of the specific type of class alliance that is nowadays referred to by the term National Democratic Revolution can be precisely located in the Second Congress of the Communist International (2CCI), in the discussion on the National & Colonial Question, reported by V. I. Lenin on 26 July 1920 (attached), less than three years after the Great October Revolution in Russia, a revolution based on a worker-peasant alliance.

The founding Congress of the Communist International (“Comintern”) took place in March, 1919, a little more than a year after that October 1917 Russian Revolution, of which it was an integral consequence. The setting up of the Communist International was a demand that was part of Lenin’s “April Theses”.

The first “International Working Men’s Association”, of which Karl Marx had been a founder member in 1864, had faded after 1871 following the fall of the Paris Commune. The Second International fell apart in 1914, when most of the Social-Democratic workers’ parties backed the bourgeois masters of war in the conflict between the Imperialist powers.

The communists, led by Lenin, had held out against that betrayal. After the revolutionary victory in Russia they lost very little time before constructing a new International. The Third, Communist International was naturally and explicitly anti-Imperial and anti-colonial, but it explicitly, carefully, and out of necessity, extended the revolutionary alliance to include parts of the bourgeoisie.

In his report to the 2CCI on the National & Colonial Question, Lenin says: 

“We have discussed whether it would be right or wrong, in principle and in theory, to state that the Communist International and the Communist parties must support the bourgeois-democratic movement in backward countries. As a result of our discussion, we have arrived at the unanimous decision to speak of the national-revolutionary movement rather than of the ‘bourgeois-democratic’ movement. It is beyond doubt that any national movement can only be a bourgeois-democratic movement, since the overwhelming mass of the population in the backward countries consist of peasants who represent bourgeois-capitalist relationships… However, the objections have been raised that, if we speak of the bourgeois-democratic movement, we shall be obliterating all distinctions between the reformist and the revolutionary movements. Yet that distinction has been very clearly revealed of late in the backward and colonial countries…”

In this report we find, for the first time all together, the makings of the NDR, including the name, even if the words are not quite in their present-day order. Lenin calls it “national-revolutionary”, but he makes it very clear that he is talking of a democratic class alliance with anti-colonial, anti-Imperialist elements of the national bourgeoisie in colonial countries.

The 2CCI was followed within two months by the famous “Congress of the Peoples of the East”, in Baku, in the southern part of what was soon to become the Soviet Union. This 1920 event was the first international anti-colonial conference, and it had huge consequences. We will deal with the Congress of the Peoples of the East in the next instalment, as a contribution to the discussion of the realisation of the NDR, the concept which had been laid down in Lenin’s report.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Report on National and Colonial Question, 2CCI, Lenin.

25 June 2015

Permanent Revolution

National Democratic Revolution, Part 1c

Permanent Revolution

Karl Marx’s March 1850 Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League (attached) begins by describing the working proletariat as the “only decisively revolutionary class”, and ends with a battle-cry for the workers: “The Permanent Revolution!”

In this Address, Marx is advocating all possible means of achieving a revolutionary change which, if not theoretically irreversible, would not in practice be reversed – i.e. a “permanent revolution”.

“The workers' party must go into battle with the maximum degree of organization, unity and independence, so that it is not exploited and taken in tow by the bourgeoisie,” said Marx, rehearsing the events of the previous two years when the bourgeois allies of the working class had treacherously sold the workers out as soon as they could secure favourable terms for themselves in the revolution against the reactionary feudal powers.

Marx then very frankly reviews the competing self-interests of the contending classes and fractions of the bourgeoisie.

“There is no doubt that during the further course of the revolution in Germany, the petty-bourgeois democrats will for the moment acquire a predominant influence. The question is, therefore, what is to be the attitude of the proletariat, and in particular of the League towards them,” declared Marx.

“As in the past, so in the coming struggle also, the petty bourgeoisie, to a man, will hesitate as long as possible and remain fearful, irresolute and inactive; but when victory is certain it will claim it for itself and will call upon the workers to behave in an orderly fashion, to return to work and to prevent so-called excesses, and it will exclude the proletariat from the fruits of victory,” warned Marx.

The working class must “be independently organized and centralized in clubs,” and “it is the task of the genuinely revolutionary party… to carry through the strictest centralization.” Reading this section, it is clear that Marx was convinced that the building of the democratic republic and the building of the nation had to be one and the same set of actions.

The working-class tactics in alliance with the bourgeois democrats should be to “force the democrats to make inroads into as many areas of the existing social order as possible,” and constantly to “drive the proposals of the democrats to their logical extreme”.

The workers must always look ahead to the next act of the revolutionary drama. They will “contribute most to their final victory by informing themselves of their own class interests, by taking up their independent political position as soon as possible, and by not allowing themselves to be misled by the hypocritical phrases of the democratic petty bourgeoisie into doubting for one minute the necessity of an independently organized party of the proletariat.”

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League, Karl Marx, 1850.

24 June 2015

Origin of the National Republic

National Democratic Revolution, Part 1b

Barricade, Rue Soufflot, Paris, February 1848, painting by Horace Vernet

Origin of the National Republic

The Great French Revolution that started in 1789 did not immediately produce a lasting democratic republic in France. Napoleon Bonaparte’s Empire, launched with a coup d’etat on 9 November 1799, had attacked feudal monarchs all over Europe. But these events were followed during the next three decades by the restoration of weak versions of the French monarchy, culminating in the “July Monarchy” of Louis Philippe. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels anticipated a coming revolutionary upsurge and published the Communist Manifesto at the beginning of the revolutionary year of 1848.

The Manifesto’s first major section is called “Bourgeois and Proletarians” and it says among other things that: “Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other - bourgeoisie and proletariat.”

Karl Marx arrested in Brussels, March 1848, drawing, N Khukov

Yet it was Marx in particular, in two great books and one short Address (see the attached and/or the links below), who described, better then anyone else, the much less simple, more complex, permutations of class conflict at the time. For example, in the following cut from “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” (find attached, or please download your file via the link below) it is clear that the proletariat suffered an almost immediate disaster, because it had no allies. The proletariat was isolated and attacked by all the other classes together, and massacred, in June of 1848 in Paris.

This is the situation that the proletariat must always avoid, and it is one reason why the working class must always have allies. Here is the cut from Marx’s outline of events, given in the “18th Brumaire”:

“a. May 4 to June 25, 1848. Struggle of all classes against the proletariat. Defeat of the proletariat in the June days.
“b. June 25 to December 10, 1848. Dictatorship of the pure bourgeois republicans. Drafting of the constitution. Proclamation of a state of siege in Paris. The bourgeois dictatorship set aside on December 10 by the election of Bonaparte as President.”

In the “18th Brumaire”, not only do the contenders of the Great French Revolution, the Aristocracy, the Peasantry (sometimes called the Montagne), the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat reappear. Also described are the clear contradictions within the bourgeois class. Plus the classless, manipulative Bonaparte, who played the four main classes off against each other for more than two decades until he lost the plot.  And notably the “lumpen-proletariat” of idle adventurers who were Bonaparte’s willing, and paid (with “whisky and sausages”) accomplices.

Berlin, March 1848, painting

In his March 1850 Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League Marx spoke in particular of Germany, which had also caught the revolutionary enthusiasm, again in terms of a precise and dynamic comprehension of the patterns and permutations of class contradiction, and of who must ally with whom at any particular moment.

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were deeply, personally and very effectively involved in these events as individuals and as organisers, and in Engels’ case as a military combatant.

These events shaped the new form of democratic republic that was consolidated in France after the eventual fall of Louis Bonaparte in 1871, and after the brief life of the Paris Commune.

Barricade, Paris, June 1848, photograph

That newly-formed kind of “democratic bourgeois republic” still remains the standard form of nation-state in the world, and it is the same kind that our republic has become, here in South Africa.

This historic understanding, as well as the unsurpassed clarity with which Marx in particular describes the nature of practical multi-class struggle, can serve to prepare us for a progressively more specific, historical examination of the theory and practice of National Democratic Revolution (NDR) through the 20th Century, in Africa, and in South Africa up to the present time.

The NDR is nothing if it is not about class alliance, and about democracy on the national scale.

Marx’s “The Class Struggles in France” (please find attached or download the extract linked below) is also a study in class alliance, and it complements the “18th Brumaire”. It is a detailed account of the revolutionary events in France from 1848 onwards, including the rise of Louis Bonaparte. Marx was frequently in Paris during this period.

What “The Class Struggles in France” does for us here, early in our course on the National Democratic Revolution, is to demonstrate the realities and permutations of class conflict. It shows once again how the working class must have allies, and it shows how treacherous, brutal and ruthless the bourgeoisie can be. It also shows how lightning-fast revolutionary events can be. The period covered by chapter 1 is only four months, from February to June, and yet almost everything that can happen in a revolution, happened in that time. The question of the republic arises, and the necessity of supporting it. The revolutionary national democracy is crucial.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Chapters 1 and 7, Marx, Part 1 and Part 2, and Class Struggles in France, Part 1, The Defeat of June 1848, Marx.

22 June 2015

Critique of the Gotha Programme

National Democratic Revolution, Part 1a

Critique of the Gotha Programme

Why does the Critique of the Gotha Programme come in here? What does it have to do with the NDR?

Because: The Gotha Programme was a Unity Programme. It was supposed to be the basis upon which the separate factions of the German Social Democrats were going to unite and go forward together.

The National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance must be a united front, broad alliance, popular front or unity-in-action. The one that Marx criticised in this document was founded on a false basis. It needed to be an honest programme, but it was not.

If you skip over Engels’ foreword, you will find that the actual “Critique” is only eight pages long. It is a short read but it contains a lot. Some of it is controversial, even today – for example Marx’s remarks about co-operatives (p. 9).

The person called Lassalle who Marx refers to had been the energetic leader of the politically weaker faction. By this point in time Lassalle was deceased, but his followers were still being called the “Lasalleans”.

Our South African National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance does not require the creation of a monolithic Party.

Perhaps this is one reason why we have celebrated the centenary of the ANC, without the collapse of the essential class alliance.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Critique of the Gotha Programme, Karl Marx, Part 1 and Part 2.

21 June 2015

Roots of the NDR

National Democratic Revolution, Part 1

Roots of the NDR

With any course, one must decide where to begin. In the case of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), the course has to begin with an understanding of class struggle and of class alliances in history.

Such a study could begin as long ago as the fifth century BC in the Athenian Republic led by Pericles, or with the Conflict of the Orders in the Roman Republic at approximately the same time, and it could proceed through the class struggles involving, for example, the Gracchus brothers [Pictured: Gaius Gracchus, Tribune of the People], Julius Caesar and others, that led in 27 BC to the stagnant class truce called the Roman Empire, which then, during four centuries, declined and fell (in its Western half) into a rural Dark Age, which was also the genesis of feudalism. Class struggle is the engine of history. Without it, there is very little movement.

We could alternatively begin in 1512 with Machiavelli, and the class struggles of Renaissance (i.e. “born again”) Italy, where multiple city-states with populations of 100,000 or more were embroiled in internal and external class conflicts.

We could go to Thomas Hobbes, who published his book Leviathan in 1651, describing the politics of the bigger national states of Northern Europe (Like Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands) which had by his time surpassed the politics of Italy to become the main theatre of recorded historical process.

These European machinations could have been our workbook and our political sandpit, for the main reason that there is a record of them. There is very little virtue to be found in this history, and the examples are mostly bad examples – examples of things to be avoided – but there is a literature.

French Revolution

But we might as well rather begin, as Frederick Engels does in the first part of his “Socialism, Utopian and Scientific” (attached), with the Great French Revolution that started in 1789. From this point on we can meet, in their developed form, the class protagonists who allied and clashed, from that time until now, in all possible permutations; alliances holy and unholy, strategic and tactical; marriages of convenience and marriages made in heaven; and we can have, for the most part, the benefit of Marx and Engels as eyewitnesses or near-to eyewitnesses.

The contending classes were: the feudal aristocrats; the peasants; the bourgeoisie; and the proletariat.

Using this work of Engels’ as a starting point has the additional benefit of introducing the rudiments of political philosophy, and leading our thoughts towards the “democratic bourgeois republic”, which is at one and the same time the highest form of political life before socialism; the prerequisite of concerted proletarian action; and a form of the State that has to be transcended.

In other words, our study of the NDR will bring us, as history has already brought us in life, to the kind of crisis that Lenin outlined so sharply in “The State and Revolution,” when majority rule is no longer an adequate substitute for the free development of each as the condition for the free development of all, social self-management, the end of class struggle, the withering away of the state, and the fully classless society called communism.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, Part 1, Engels.

08 June 2015

National Democratic Revolution: Introduction

National Democratic Revolution, Part 0

National Democratic Revolution: Introduction

The CU National Democratic Revolution (NDR) course will be serialised on this CU-Africa channel in the third quarter of 2015.

To see the full CU-Africa posting schedule for 2015, please click here.

The NDR is the product of a class alliance (unity-in-action) against an oppressor class. The clearest original statement of this theoretical principle was made by V I Lenin at the Second Congress of the Communist International (2CCI) in 1920, in his Report of the Commission on the National and Colonial Question. We will return to the 2CCI statement in due course.

In practice, the NDR works to extend democracy to all horizontal corners of, and to all vertical layers within, the national territory and its population. In the cause of national democracy, it also manages non-class contradictions such as those of race and gender. It does not eliminate the class struggle, but it prepares society for the next necessary revolutionary step, which we refer to as socialism – the just state of the working class. The NDR is a rehearsal for a fuller kind of freedom.

The NDR is always historical, in the sense of being a practical piece of work carried out in changing objective conditions, by individuals acting through the structures that they have consciously created. This series will trace the world history of the NDR from the distant past up to the present, attempting to cover the salient features, if not all the detail.

NDR in South Africa today

The living history of the NDR in South Africa is that of the African National Congress, embodying the class alliance that is the functional heart of the NDR.

The main trade union federation COSATU, and organised labour in general, are vital components in the necessary process of rendering the mass of the people into a self-conscious, free-willing historical subject. The working class leads and lends class-consciousness and a sense of purpose to the peasantry and to the petty-bourgeoisie. The working class is indispensable to the NDR.

But labour unions are not sufficient by themselves for the NDR; it requires an organised mass-democratic national liberation movement, which in our case is the ANC. It also requires a party of generalising professional revolutionaries. That party is the SACP.

The theoretical pattern of the NDR was set in 1920 by the Comintern, and immediately afterwards by the conference of “The Peoples of the East”. Before we come to these, we will look at the ancient history of the nation - its origins and its development as a human institution.

Triumph attracting the attention of Disaster

Coming up to date, we will find, in parts of the ANC, that the NDR is treated as if it is a complete historical goal, or that it could reach stasis, or that it is an end in itself. We will expose such ideas to criticism.

The NDR story is one of the historic materialisation and triumph of an idea all around the world, but also of a new threat: that the NDR could be treated as a meaningless commonplace, taken for granted, or even worse, expropriated as a political weapon by the very forces that the NDR exists to oppose.

Unlike those who want to call closure on revolution and declare a static “National Democratic State” to be the final state, the communists know that history will insist on moving on beyond the NDR, towards the revolutionary end of class conflict itself, and towards the corresponding withering-away of the State altogether.

The challenge posed by this study of the NDR is therefore to learn how to carry out the National Democratic Revolution to its utmost possible extent, and then to be able to conceive of an even greater degree of freedom: a freedom that is beyond democracy and which is more than the mere crushing of a minority by a majority (which is the essence of democracy). True freedom is the ultimate goal.

As Lenin pointed out in “The State and Revolution”, written on the eve of Great October, 1917, the withering away of the state has to become a burning issue. Before we get to that point in our studies, we must, in the next post of this new course on the National Democratic Revolution, begin again from the beginning.

·        To download any of the CU courses in PDF files please click here.

03 June 2015

Building SADTU

Development, Part 10b

Building SADTU

Why SADTU, in this general course on development? In the first place, because after the ANC and the SACP, we need an example of a primary, subjective mass organisation so as to consider how the democracy of this country is being built, and can be further built, right across the board, and at every level from grassroots to national.

This is to conclude our course on development, because, firstly, true development, which is “the free development of each, and the condition for the free development of all”, is human development, and depends upon the development of democratic institutions.  But also, material development at local level cannot proceed properly without democratic institutions to guide it.

For this purpose SADTU is as good an example as any other.

In addition one can also say that, in the context of building the National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance at local level, SADTU has a unique relevance because its sites are in every ward. SADTU has an unequalled opportunity to spearhead the integration of the COSATU federation into practical alliance with the SACP and the ANC at local level, because it is there.

Therefore the downloadable text related to this, the last item in the last part of our course on Development, Rural and Urban, is SADTU’s recruitment brochure, previously downloaded from the SADTU web site.

Also from the SADTU web site is the following on Membership:

“SADTU is a union proud of its history and confident of its future. The union is currently boasting a membership of 240,000 representing more than 2/3 of the teaching force in the country. It is an affiliate of COSATU, the biggest federation in South Africa. SADTU is a member of Education International (EI), the global union federation of organisations representing 30 million teachers and other education workers, through 394 member organisations in 171 countries and territories.”

and the following on Joining SADTU:

“Membership of SADTU is open to any person who is eligible for such membership [according to the SADTU constitution] and subscribes to its aims and objects. Persons can apply for full membership for those practicing as teachers or educationalist including those in auxiliary services, both formal and non-formal institutions of learning. Associate membership can be applied for by persons professionally admitted to the teaching profession but no longer practice as such and all persons who qualified as teachers and are yet not employed as such and student teachers.”

The SADTU Constitution (37-Page, 439 KB, PDF) can be downloaded here.

Mass organisations of every type are needed. In particular, South Africa needs a democratic, individual-membership mass organisation of women.

From the end of this week the CU political education forum will be carrying a ten-part course on the National Democratic Revolution.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: SADTU Recruitment Booklet and SADTU Membership Application Form.

02 June 2015

Imvuselelo Campaign

Development, Part 10a

Imvuselelo Campaign

The SACP’s call to “swell the ranks” of the ANC is not an attempt to gain a majority in the ANC and thereby to take it over. To do that would be counter-productive. The SACP does not need another clone of itself. The SACP needs the ANC to be the ANC: The expression of National Democratic Revolutionary class alliance, and of unity in action; in short, the SACP needs the ANC to be South Africa’s liberation movement, because this is what South Africa needs.

The growth of the ANC is a tactical necessity for a South Africa that is still trying to realise its full freedom. This is the same reason that the SACP has been building the ANC since the 1920s, without any pause. At the beginning of their relationship the ANC was a much smaller organisation than the SACP.

The ANC complements the SACP and COSATU. No one of these three can replace or substitute for either of the others. None of them can do without the others. All three have to be grown, for the sake of all three.

Now, while the SACP is aiming for half a million members, the ANC could reach 2 million within the current term of Jacob Zuma’s Presidency. The organised trade union movement may altogether have three million members, with COSATU affiliates currently having about two-thirds of the total.

This growth of mass democratic formations is the working out of the National Democratic Revolution, which moves towards completion in proportion to the democratisation of the popular masses in various mass democratic structures, elaborated at different levels and throughout the country.

The ANC’s expansion and extension plan is called the Imvuselelo Campaign. The attached and linked document is made up of part of an ANC statement re-launching the Imvuselelo Campaign on 12 August 2010, plus a link to the “How to join the ANC” pages on the ANC web site. Also attached is an ANC membership application form.

In the next item, which is also the last of this course, we will look at the role of Trade Unions and the actual and potential role of SADTU in particular.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: ANC Imvuselelo Campaign and How to Join the ANC.

01 June 2015

The Party Goes Local

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 conscious agent of such process of organisation, the communist party; in this case, the South African Communist Party, the SACP.

The SACP is still in the process of converting its branches to “Voting District” branches. The SACP is also determined to achieve a 500 000 membership, 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 five or six, 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. If there was a free-standing Women’s Movement, it could serve as the fifth independent Alliance partner.

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.


Voting District structures established by the ANC in 2014 / 2015:

Establishment of Sub-branch Coordinating Teams (SBCTs)

The BEC must establish sub-branch structures equal to the number of voting districts (VDs) in the ward. The structures so established shall be called Sub-Branch Coordinating Teams (SBCTs) because they do not have executive powers as they are coordinating structures.

The SBCT shall be responsible for the following;

·        Establishment and maintenance/servicing of Street Coordinators in the VD
·        Establishment and maintenance/servicing of Political Education Study Circles in the VD
·        Coordinating of membership recruitment, growth and maintenance in the VD. This includes membership of the Leagues and MKMVA
·        Identifying problems in the community in the VD, proposing and coordinating solutions to such problems
·        Dissemination of information to ANC members in the VD

The members of the SBCT are appointed by the BEC, not elected at a meeting of members convened at VD level.

The BEC must appoint the following seven members of the SBCTs.

·        Convener of SBCT, to act as the chairperson and facilitator
·        Coordinator of SBCT, to act as the secretary
·        Member responsible for membership recruitment and coordination
·        Member responsible for political education
·        Member responsible for campaigns
·        Member responsible for coordination of issues on governance
·        Member responsible for coordination of structures below the VD

The names of the members appointed in the SBCTs must be announced by the BEC at the BGM. This must be after consulting these individual members and their acceptance of the responsibility.

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 attached 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 extracts from the SACP Constitution as it was prior to the 13th Congress. Please refer to the latest version of the constitution before acting.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Building a strong SACP, Forming a VD Branch.