|VIEWPOINT: *Dumisane Makhaye
Dumisani Makhaye Speaks from his grave!
"These 'left' groupings in the SACP and COSATU have had to work hard to destroy the credibility of tried and tested leaders and activists of the ANC. This necessarily led to them constituting themselves as a faction within the ANC. Acting as such a faction, these groupings set themselves particular tasks within the ANC, including using the fact of the ANC membership of their members to promote their factional policy positions, pretending that these represent a progressive improvement of the policy positions of the ANC."
THE GOAL of reconstruction and development demands that the ANC defends its leadership role in the continuing struggle for the victory of the national democratic revolution, and maintain the unity of the forces that brought about the defeat of the apartheid regime.
For many decades, the ANC and the SACP have worked together as reliable and dependable partners. Each partner understood their respective and non-antagonistic roles, their different and common goals.
The task of the ANC, composed as a multi-class formation, was to lead the masses of our people in the struggle for the victory of the national democratic revolution. It had to ensure the defeat of the system of white minority domination, the achievement of democracy, and the eradication of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid.
The SACP had determined that its historic mission was, and is, to lead the workers and the working people in the struggle for the victory of the socialist revolution. Nevertheless, it determined that for these working masses to tackle the challenge of their class oppression, first of all, they had to free themselves from national oppression.
The SACP therefore shared a common responsibility with the ANC to organise and mobilise the black workers into the struggle for national liberation. At the same time, the two formations had a common obligation to mobilise this majority of our workers to engage in struggle to improve its wages and working conditions.
In organisational terms, the various tasks of the ANC and the SACP meant that the two formations had to maintain their independent existence, to create the possibility for them to pursue their different objectives. At the same time, they had to elaborate the necessary forms of organisation that would give effect to the equally important reality that, with regard to a variety of important matters, they pursued common objectives.
This led to a complex ideological, political and organisational struggle within the camp of the forces of the national democratic revolution, stretching over a number of decades. Nevertheless, in time the main questions were resolved. This struggle created a stable system of cooperation and united action between the ANC and the SACP, which gave our broad movement for national liberation the strength and the cohesion it needed to defeat the system of white minority rule.
The broad movement included the progressive trade union movement, which would be an independent formation of all workers without regard to the political allegiance of these workers. Another was that both the ANC and the SACP would work among the workers and their trade union organisations to provide the political consciousness and leadership that would ensure the adherence of these workers to the respective political programmes and goals of the ANC and the SACP.
However, as we approached the moment of the accomplishment of the political tasks of this alliance, trends began to emerge from within the alliance whose effect was to question and threaten the ideological, political and organisational construct representing the united movement for national liberation that was on the verge of victory.
Objectively, this emerged out of the natural consideration by each independent formation of the alliance, of the implications for itself of the impending victory of the national democratic revolution. This natural process led to the emergence of groupings within the SACP and COSATU that sought to redefine the tasks of the working class, among others.
These groupings within the SACP and COSATU came to the conclusion that the victory of the national democratic revolution would create the possibility for them to use the democratic state power to achieve the goals of the socialist revolution, as they understood these goals.
In the meantime, the task that faced the ANC was to define, as precisely as possible, the tasks of the democratic state in the continuing struggle to achieve the goals of the national democratic revolution.
Nevertheless the groupings in the SACP and COSATU we have mentioned, set about positioning themselves within the alliance in such a way that they would be able to determine and decide what the democratic state would do. Necessarily, a number of consequences arose from this strategic shift.
One of these is that these groupings would adopt the position that the national democratic revolution had run its course. Accordingly, in their view, the time had come to build socialism now. At the same time, the determination would be made that the same popular forces that secured the political victory of the national democratic revolution should be mobilised and transformed into the forces that would build socialism now.
To do this, it was necessary and obligatory that the forces of socialism, defined as the groupings located within the SACP and COSATU, should therefore take over the leadership of these popular forces. They would have to remove and replace the ANC in terms of the exercise of this leadership.
We must make the point that the majority of members of both the SACP and COSATU do not constitute part of these groupings. These same members will ensure that their organisations, the SACP and COSATU, are not abused and misused as instruments for the pursuit of goals inconsistent with the aspirations of the ordinary South Africans they represent.
To achieve their objectives, the 'left' groupings in the SACP and COSATU that we have mentioned, decided to act and acted on at least seven fronts.
One, they presented their own unique political platform to the country, not hesitating to contradict and challenge the publicly expressed positions of the ANC.
Two, they opposed the concept of building the SACP as a vanguard party of the working class. They prefer that the Communist Party should remain a 'mass party'. The advantages the 'left' grouping in the SACP and COSATU derive from this is that this enables these groupings to rely on the low level of socialist consciousness in the country to use all and sundry as part of their 'left' cadres.
Three, they worked to popularise this platform, engaging in an ideological, political and organisational struggle to build as broad a movement as possible to support this platform, specifically aimed at defeating the policies and positions of the ANC.
Four, they worked to exclude and deny ANC political leadership especially of the progressive trade union movement, to destroy the tradition built during the most difficult period of our struggle for national liberation, of ANC leadership of and integration with the organised workers, in the advance to national liberation.
Five, they engaged in determined efforts to capture the leadership of the ANC in a factional process historically described in the progressive movement, with its tradition of forming united fronts, as entryism.
Six, they have relied on conspiratorial methods to achieve their objectives. This includes the processes in which they engage to capture the leadership of the broad democratic movement, including the ANC.
Seven, they have worked to turn the international forces that worked to defeat the apartheid regime, into opponents of our movement. They do this through a sustained campaign to discredit the efforts of both the ANC and the democratic state.
The critical fourth point in the agenda of the 'left' groupings, which relates to their determined effort radically to change the relationship among the organisational leaders of the national liberation movement, the socialist revolution, and the workers organised into the trade union movement.
These 'left' groupings in the SACP and COSATU have had to work hard to destroy the credibility of tried and tested leaders and activists of the ANC. This necessarily led to them constituting themselves as a faction within the ANC. Acting as such a faction, these groupings set themselves particular tasks within the ANC, including using the fact of the ANC membership of their members to promote their factional policy positions, pretending that these represent a progressive improvement of the policy positions of the ANC.
Another was to manipulate the democratic processes of the ANC to ensure the election of their candidates to positions of leadership within our movement.
Among other things, this has taken the form of the executive lists these groupings secretly present to the delegates at ANC elective conference at all levels, for whose election they canvass, presenting themselves as a genuine ANC lobby.
It is easy then to see why the anti-ANC groupings in the SACP and COSATU earn the accolades and support of others in our country that oppose the ANC from conservative and right-wing liberal positions.
These forces, principally concentrated in Democratic Party/Democratic Alliance, know that they are too weak effectively to oppose the ANC. This is despite their support by a variety of non-governmental organisations, various academics and 'experts', and sections of the media. They believe that our 'left' opponents have a better possibility to weaken their opponent, the ANC, and thus will contribute to the realisation of the strategic objective of the rightwing.
This confirms the global experience of the progressive movement for a period that extends over a century, that left factionalists end up working as allies of right-wing reaction.
Unfortunately, and perhaps understandably, it took the ANC some time fully to understand the new tendencies we have been discussing. There was a time lag between the evolution of objective reality and the subjective comprehension of this reality.
Our organisation failed to take into account the fact that not all leaders of the alliance would necessarily respond to our accession to political power in the same way, remaining loyal to the traditions established by our broad movement through and after many decades of struggle.
The result of this was that the ANC took time to respond to the ideological, political and organisational offensive of the groupings that had located themselves in the SACP and COSATU. This created the impression that these groupings had a just cause, whereas the ANC was guilty as charged by these groupings.
Our movement now understands very well both the objective and subjective factors that relate to the emergence of ultra-left factions within the alliance.
Correctly, we have begun the counter-offensive to defend the best revolutionary traditions of our broad movement for national liberation.
Naturally, this will evoke a response from those against whom we defend our revolutionary traditions. We will continue to tackle this task in a principled, but vigorous fashion. Necessarily our opponents will respond in a different way, essentially driven by their inability to mount a straightforward and effective ideological and political response. This has been demonstrated by the manner in which the 'left' groupings have, for instance, treated the issue of the restructuring of state assets. To substantiate their case, they have resorted to gross and deliberate falsification of everything relating to this process.
In this regard, we are faced with a number of tasks. One of these is properly to understand the strategic objectives, tactical tasks, operational goals and composition of the forces of the 'left' groupings. This must include their domestic and international 'left' and right-wing allies.
The other is properly to inform and mobilise the membership of the ANC about and around all these matters. This membership must then act within all our structures to defend and advance the agreed positions of our movement.
Another task is to communicate with other organisations of the mass democratic movement and other influential public organisations, to familiarize them with the positions of our movement.
We will achieve our revolutionary goals in spite of the combined opposition of the 'left' inside and outside our ranks, and our right-wing opponents.
Confronted as we are by 'left' and right-wing professionals, our movement must and will respond to these professionals in a consistently revolutionary, honest and open manner. We will not retreat from, or abandon, this struggle.
Dumisani Makhaye is the late former member of the ANC National Executive Committee, this article was first published on the ANC Today in 2002 under the title "The Left factionalism and the NDR -The ANC must respond to professionals of the 'left" and we re-publish it as it appears to be still relevant to pertinent debates.