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Red October Campaign 2021 Statement Delivered by Dr. Blade Nzimande, the SACP General Secretary

Inchanga, eThekwini Metro, Sunday, 3 October 2021

The Red October Campaign 2021 takes place in the year of our founding centenary. 30th July 2021 marked the 100th founding anniversary of the SACP, founded as the Communist Party of South Africa. Within this period of 100 years of our unbroken struggle, we initiated the Red October Campaign in the last decade of the 20th century, within the first decade of our democratic dispensation after our victory against the apartheid regime in the 1990s.

Through the Red October Campaign, we built communist activism in pursuit of the demands of the masses and broader social transformation and development imperatives. To highlight the contribution of the Red October Campaign, there are two examples we wish to make.

First, it was through the Red October Campaign that the SACP became the first political organisation in our democratic dispensation to place land redistribution and agrarian transformation at the centre stage. By mid-2000s, the Red October Campaign produced a shift from the so-called “Willing buyer, Willing seller” market-driven land reform approach.

Land redistribution and agrarian transformation remain one central issue that our national democratic revolution must resolve, to ensure equitable access to land and other natural resources. This is essential to build integrated human settlements, and to eliminate the colonial and apartheid legacy of uneven development and its daily reproduction by the capitalist market.

Together with agrarian transformation, land redistribution is also essential to ensure the transfer of land to masses to work it, as part of the agrarian transformation, poverty eradication, and employment creation imperative. Therefore, hand in hand with completing the process to make expropriation a policy instrument to achieve land redistribution within our constitutional dispensation, we need to build technical and material support, in line with the Freedom Charter, for productive use of land by the masses.

The seconds example we wish to make relates to financial sector transformation. Had it not been for the SACP-initiated and led Financial Sector Transformation Campaign, South Africa would have been more severely affected by the global economic crisis that broke out in 2008. It was through the Red October Campaign that the SACP introduced and drove the Financial Sector Transformation Campaign.

As the direct fruit of the Financial Sector Transformation Campaign, consumers in South Africa were protected against reckless and predatory lending practices by the banks and other financial establishments. This was done through the adoption of the National Credit Act. It was through this achievement by our campaigning that we cushioned South Africa’s financial system against the worst effects of the global economic crisis. This was unlike in the United States, for example, where the global economic crisis was first felt in the banking system and financial markets.

Liberalisation and deregulation in United States paved the way for bad financial sector conduct. This created conditions for what first appeared to be a ballooning debt crisis. As the crisis spread like a contagious virus due to sectoral linkages and global connections, more and more its broader characteristics as an economy-wide crisis at the global scale pronounced themselves and caused a massive devastation, including a meltdown in production.        

Our Red October Campaign is not an oppositionist agenda that projects the ANC-led government as the cause of all problems. The campaign seeks to deepen the transformation of our state to serve the people wholeheartedly. At the same time, it serves as a platform to drive and intensify class struggle against capitalist domination, monopoly, and exploitation of the masses. This is what we did when we directly confronted the financial sector in pursuit of transformation.

We need to intensify the Red October Campaign not only in the financial sector but also in every sector of the economy and sphere of broader social transformation and development.

We are here in Inchanga to do exactly that, to intensify the campaign.  

The significance of Inchanga venue

It is befitting that we hold our launch of the Red October Campaign 2021 here in Inchanga, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, our Red October this year coincides with the intensification of the election campaign for local government. In Inchanga, our grassroots activism is amongst the highest in the country.

Secondly, the community of Inchanga, working together with the Alliance, has managed to unite itself to overcome the divisions that occurred inside the Alliance. The divisions were caused by councillor candidate preferences during the last local government elections. We congratulate the community of Inchanga for this advance.

Thirdly, Inchanga stands as an example, as well as a stark reminder, that without grassroots community activism and unity, guided by a united Alliance, the gains we have made as a movement will be under the threat of erosion.

In the lead up to this launch of the Red October Campaign 2021, we visited the families of the three women who were shot and killed in Inanda at an ANC convened community meeting to nominate a ward councillor. We were touched by the story of the affected families. We are concerned that no one has been arrested yet, for these dastardly acts. We call upon the police to up their efforts to find and arrest the culprits, and others elsewhere who have also not been arrested for what are essentially politically inspired killings. We also call upon the relevant government departments to attend to the psychosocial needs of, and counselling for the affected families.

November 1st, 2021, local government elections

The Red October Campaign 2021 takes place within a period of local government elections. On November 1st, 2021, we will vote for our municipal councils.

The SACP will use the month of October to focus on campaigning for an overwhelming victory of the ANC for the reasons we will highlight below.

Let us use both the elections and our activism through the Red October Campaign to press for revolutionary changes, to build on the social progress realised by millions of our people since our victory against the apartheid regime in 1994. As the SACP, we are proud to have contributed immensely to end colonial oppression and the official state system of racial and gender discrimination in our country. The ANC played a historic role in the forefront of our Alliance, and since 1994, as our governing party. As the oldest movement in South Africa, our combined contribution to the liberation of our country towards social emancipation is unmatched.

Allow us to repeat the example we made during the recent launch of the ANC 2021 local government election manifesto. Under the ANC-led government, a child from a working-class family receives a child support grant from birth until 18 years. That child receives free healthcare until the age of five and is likely to go to a no-fee-paying school. On completing schooling, the working-class child will receive a National Student Financial Aid Scheme bursary to study at a college or university. Upon graduating, that child would likely to be the first ever college or university graduate in the entire history of their family.

Since 1994, under the ANC-led government, millions of our people received coverage from the massive rollout of household electrification. This was for the first time in 100 years, since 1894, that electrification was extended to cover the formerly oppressed. All along we were systematically condemned to live in darkness. At the height of our struggle against the apartheid regime, the racist regime installed the tall Apollo lights to prepare to shoot us better rather than installing lights in our homes.

It was also under the ANC-led government that millions of our people benefitted from the massive roll-out of low-cost houses, which were allocated to them for free of charge. Besides electrification, this was accompanied by a massive rollout of water and tarred roads infrastructure. The ANC-led government built clinics in communities where there were none before, enabling access to healthcare, benefitting the elderly and women, among others.  

The SACP is calling for the workers and poor of our country to vote for the ANC on 1 November 2021, to improve on the progress we have made following our victory against apartheid. We still have a lot of work to build on our achievements, advance and deepen our democratic transition towards complete emancipation. 

As the SACP, we are pleased that the ANC has committed itself to deal with its internal weaknesses and mistakes, build unity and pursue organisational renewal. The SACP calls for a vote for the ANC precisely because the ANC is admitting to its own mistakes, internal weaknesses, and commits to addressing these. These include the problems of factionalism, corrupting of election lists and candidate nominations by factionalists, gatekeeping, and the marginalisation of the Alliance and its other formations, the SACP and COSATU.

By supporting the ANC, we are not giving it a blank check, but we want it to honour its commitments to address whatever weaknesses there are.

We also welcome and are encouraged by the fact that the ANC is the only political party contesting these local government elections that has sent its nominated candidates to communities for endorsement or rejection in community meetings. None of the opposition parties have had the courage to do so. Instead, they are putting forward candidates without community involvement.

The SACP wholeheartedly supports the decision endorsed by the ANC to investigate allegations where its candidate lists were manipulated. We reiterate our stance against factionalism, gatekeeping, and marginalisation of Alliance partners and communities. 

We also expect the ANC to improve its commitment to work with and contribute towards a reconfigured Alliance. Going forward, it is clear, without the firm support of the working-class with its allies, the ANC will suffer serious setbacks.

Also, we will not tolerate corrupt practices and councillors who do not hold regular consultative and report back meetings with their communities. 

Vaccination to achieve population immunity against COVID-19

We are holding this Red October launch in the middle of the national and global effort to mobilise as many people as possible to vaccinate against COVID-19. We need to achieve population immunity against the deadly disease, to save lives and protect livelihoods. Vaccinating in big numbers to achieve population immunity will allow all sectors of the economy to run at full capacity.

We must not allow the election campaign to defocus us on the necessity to intensify the vaccination campaign. We call on all our communities to do both: vaccinate and vote. That is why we welcome the presidentially-led Vooma campaign to intensify the vaccination campaign. The SACP says: Vaccinate and Vote!

Saving life and livelihoods in the battle against COVID-19

Human society hinges on continuous economic production, which we need to unlock, develop to its full potential, and liberate from capitalist domination and exploitation.

Under capitalism, the bosses put profit before people. It was in this context that workers in our economy lost over two million jobs in the second quarter of 2020, at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the face of the pandemic capitalist bosses maintained their pre-occupation with profits and not saving jobs.

The SACP calls on the working-class to unite, to ensure that both the much-needed health and economic turnaround are realised. It is for this reason that our centenary slogan is about putting people first and not profit!

In the light of poverty, inequality, and unemployment, now worsened by COVID-19, the SACP became one of the social formations that are calling for a universal income grant. We welcome the indication by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the recent COSATU Central Committee that the R350 COVID-19 Relief of Distress Grant may be extended beyond March 2022. The Special COVID-19 Relief of Distress Grant, which saw millions of applications from our people, should be used as the basis for advancing a universal income grant, towards establishing a social floor below which no person should fall.

Structural transformation and financial sector transformation

For our social policy to succeed, we need to support it by building a strong economy, and by making progressive changes in our economic policy framework.

A strong economy is an important source of public revenue, and a foundation to support broader social transformation and development.

One key change we need is to strengthen the role of the state in key economic sectors and in directing our economy towards priority areas for transformation and development.

As the SACP has strongly campaigned before, we will use our Red October Campaign to intensify our Financial Sector Transformation Campaign. We need to diversify our banking system so that it is not dominated by a few large commercial banks. We need to build a strong state bank. The SACP stresses its call for the African Bank to be the prime candidate for our first state bank.

Our central bank, the South African Reserve Bank, bailed out the African Bank, saving it when it was collapsing. It was during this process that the Reserve Bank acquired a stake in the African Bank. Another key stakeholder in the African Bank is the Public Investment Corporation. What is now needed is for the state to take over the stake held in the African Bank by the Reserve Bank. This must be used as the basis to transform the African Bank into a developmental state bank.

The SACP also calls upon government to strengthen its role to ensure that we build a vibrant sector of co-operative banks, building from our stokvels and burial societies. These social and co-operative activities in the financial sector must, working together with the people, be strengthened to reshape the insurance industry to support the daily needs of our people.

As part of its interventions to deal with the negative impact of COVID-19, the government set up a R200-billion state-guaranteed loan scheme for small business, yet in its first year less than R70-billion of this was used. This shows that the large commercial banking monopolies are not geared for supporting small business.

Initial evidence showed that the funds that were allocated were predominantly given to white small businesses, making them the most to benefit.

We call upon the government make interventions such as the COVID-19 state-guaranteed loan scheme to be administered in a way that fosters transformation, rather than reproduce the legacy of racial inequality.

The SACP once more calls upon the progressive trade union movement, stokvels, burial societies, other co-operatives, and the small businesses sector to join hands with the Party in taking forward these struggles.

The SACP says, put people before profit: socialism is the future—build is now.

Expansion of public employment programme at scale, insourcing and rollback of tenderisation

We need a rapid expansion of public employment programmes by all levels of the government, not least the local government.

There are many South Africans who want to work. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in our communities. These include cleaning of our townships and villages, early childhood development, building of community infrastructure, community and public works projects, and infrastructure maintenance, to mention but a few.

In the previous elections, the ANC committed itself in its manifestos to a review of outsourced services, with a strong consideration for in-sourcing. This must be implemented as a matter of urgency. We can no longer afford to postpone this reconfiguration of state functions to do away with the failed and corruptible tender regime. We need to eliminate all unnecessary tenders and a clampdown on corruption.

Broadband infrastructure, bridging the digital divide and reducing the cost of mobile communication data

We need the expansion of the broadband infrastructure to expand connectivity. This will facilitate access to information about opportunities and human development programmes, among others. Digital connectivity can also go a long way in tackling the high levels of unemployment we are facing in our country.

A public broadband infrastructure is crucial. We cannot overemphasise its importance. The SACP wants to see equal access to the digital infrastructure. A progressive rollout of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the county will play a key role. We need great importance attached to eliminating uneven development between rural and urban areas, and within urban areas between townships and suburbs.

We need decisive action by the state to de-monopolise the information and communication technology sector, and to reduce the exorbitant cost of data in our country.

The mobile communication monopolies that dominate the mobile communication network industry in our country have made huge profits during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of privatisation, the state can use democratic control of the broadband spectrum to bridge the digital divide, de-monopolise the mobile communication network industry, reduce the cost of mobile communication data, and support economic development.

Co-operatives, small enterprises and in-sourcing our outsourced functions

To develop a thriving co-operatives sector and support small enterprises, we need an implementation of the set-asides for co-operatives and small enterprises, to which we have long committed ourselves. To this end, municipalities have an important role to play.

We need a review of the operating environment and regulatory framework to enable co-operatives to thrive and to build a large co-operative sector. This is also crucial in driving ownership transformation and empowerment of the historically disadvantaged, who continue to be disadvantaged by the capitalist market and its ownership patterns.

Infrastructure rollout at scale, renewable and cleaner energy

The ANC’s commitment to scale up investment into infrastructure is crucial. This must include a focus on systematically eliminating uneven development and unequal access to resources. This needs a strong focus on rural development, peri-urban areas, townships, and revitalising city centres to turn the tide against decay.

Infrastructure development at scale must include the provision of bulk infrastructure, such as reliable water and security of electricity supply, and sewage infrastructure.

Our communities need renewable and cleaner energy, to avoid the impending climate change catastrophe. Renewable and cleaner energy productive transition is too important to be left in the hands of profit-seeking interests, and worst still without developmental state participation on behalf of the people.

Our approach to infrastructure development should include the building of an integrated, safe, affordable, and reliable public transport system, and an intermodal transportation infrastructure.

We urgently need the repositioning of Eskom, which must be turned around and well-governed to thrive, to play a leading role in the development of public renewable and cleaner energy productive capacity building and provision. The state must serve the interests of the people, instead of erroneous idea that profit-seeking interests will fulfil that role. 

The district development model

One of the most important initiatives and innovations brought about under the leadership of President Ramaphosa is that of the district development model.  The district development model brings together and aligns projects and programmes from the three spheres of the government to maximise impact on development in a co-ordinated fashion. Continuously strengthening the district development model to drive transformation and local economic and community development is crucial. Developmental programmes, such as infrastructure expansion, should be planned and implemented within the district development model.

The healthcare sector and the national health insurance

In the healthcare sector, private monopolies that claim the lion’s share of our healthcare spending, especially payments by workers from medical aid schemes, serve only a few. They are so exorbitant in pricing for profit, and do not care about life if a patient does not have the money to pay. The private monopoly interests in the healthcare sector can unashamedly evict a patient from their deathbed after exhausting their medical aid funds.

Through implementing the National Health Insurance to ensure access to quality healthcare for all, and through building strong primary healthcare clinics through local, and provincial, government, we can go a long way in emancipating our people from the yoke of profit-seeking interests and exclusion.

Building a just and equal society

We need greater integration of the role of women and gender equality into local government and community development programmes. This must go beyond just women’s representation quotas. We need concrete projects and programmes at local government level that aim to advance a non-sexist society.

Racial inequality also remains persistent in our country. Both gender and racial inequalities are anchored in the fundamental class inequality. This is reflected in income and wealth inequality. It is hard-wired in the legacy and geography of uneven development, and in unequal access to opportunities and resources.

We need greater progress to eliminate racism and racial inequality, as with gender inequality. The Communist Party has a leading role to develop in this struggle.

Tackling violence in our society

Violence has become a pandemic, afflicting many households and communities. This is manifested in a number of ways, including criminality, which affects both females and males. Its consequences include killings. Females are the worst affected through gender-based violence, physical and psychological.

In some sectors of our society, such as the taxi industry, violence is used a means of resolving conflicts. This does more harm than good.

There is also a deep interrelationship between drug and alcohol abuse, on the one hand, and violent behaviour and crime, on the other hand. It is important for the SACP and its cadres, working together with communities, to tackle scourge of drug abuse.

Our country saw massive destruction and looting in July 2021. This solved nothing. It created more problems. As we speak, there are workers who lost their jobs because of that destruction and looting.

Law enforcement agencies must improve their work to clamp down on corruption. However, we ourselves need to build powerful organisations on the ground to stop violence, working together with law enforcement agencies.   

International solidarity

The SACP is pleased with the efforts by organised workers joining the Party in mobilising solidarity aid for Cuba. This is a key task that our structures must take up and intensify to support the Cuban government and people, with whom we pledge our unwavering solidarity against imperialist aggression by the United States. We are calling for an immediate end to the occupation of the Cuban territory of Guantanamo Bay by the United States. We reiterate our call for the United States to lift its illegal blockade of Cuba. 

Our unwavering solidarity also goes to people of other countries Latin America facing imperialist aggression, the people of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, to mention but a few.

We also reiterate our solidarity with the people of Western Sahara and Palestine against occupation by Morocco and the apartheid Israeli regime, respectively.

We express our solidarity with the people of South Cameroon against onslaught and call for an end to the atrocities committed against them by the government of Cameroon.

Our unwavering solidarity also goes to the Kurds. We reiterate our call for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan.  

Organisational renewal

We must continue to push for the reconfiguration of the Alliance. We need greater focus on the community, and district, level, to unite our forces, especially the working-class and other progressive strata, to drive the national democratic revolution on the ground.

For us as the SACP, the 1 November 2021 local government elections require a powerful push to Put People Before Profit—which is our centenary theme under our guiding strategic motto: Socialism is the Future—Build it now.

Let us go all out to build a better life for all.

Let us vote for the ANC on 1 November 2021.

Amandla! Maatla! Krag! Maanda! Matimba! Matla!

All Power to the People, the majority of whom if the working-class!

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