General Secretary of the South African Communist Party,
Comrade Blade Nzimande;
Comrades` delegates to the 12th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties from various parts of the globe;
Comrades and friends,
I bring revolutionary greetings from the African National Congress.
It is a great honour to welcome you to South Africa for this important meeting of the International Communist and Workers Parties, which is taking place in South Africa for the first time. This forum is an important legacy of the internationalist struggles of working peoples across the globe.
This has been attested to by leading communists in the past. Speaking, in Moscow on June 16, 1969 as part of his final contribution and delivered as the general secretary and leader of the South African delegation at the international meeting of Communist and Workers Parties, Moses Kotane, amongst other things said:
"The very nature of our struggle has taught our revolutionaries, communists and non-communists alike, the fundamental lessons of internationalism. We know full well from practical experience that our struggle against imperialism is one with that of our brothers fighting the same enemy in every country of the world."
This thesis connects the international solidarity with the struggle for the abolition of apartheid and racism in our country. It is for this reason that we welcome our international guests, as your presence confirms our movement`s internationalist and anti-imperialist character This meeting reaffirms the bonds of comradeship and solidarity between the ANC and worker movements and communist parties internationally. While the ANC is a multi-class organisation it has always had a working class bias. Many of our members and leaders come from the ranks of the working class, while many working class people regard the ANC as their party of choice and a political home.
As we meet with you today and celebrate our common solidarity, we recall the ANC stalwarts who ensured that our message of freedom reaches far and wide, such as Oliver Tambo, Moses Kotane, JB Marks, Johnny Makatini and a host of others. We recall our worker stalwarts such as Steven Dlamini and others in the South African Congress of Trade Union (SACTU), who laid the foundations for a progressive trade union movement in our country. They taught us the need to place the interests of workers firmly at the centre of the struggle for freedom and the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment.
This gathering also highlights the fact that the bonds which moulded the common struggles of communists and non-communists in the context of the South African revolution, embodied in the historic Tripartite Alliance, continue to be a key pillar of our national democratic revolution in post-apartheid South Africa.
The historic icons and leaders who embody the Alliance – each in his or her own way provided wisdom on this relationship.
We recall the words of Alfred Nzo, Secretary-General of the ANC in 1986 in London who said: "Comrades, the ANC will defend the right of any South African who so chooses to belong to the SACP. So shall we respect the right of any of our compatriots to belong to any party of their choice as long as that party is not a vehicle for the propagation of racism and fascism. Our democratic perspectives impose these obligations on us".
This meeting also highlights the need for us to continue to work for unity, solidarity and the defence of the progressive movement against any force that seeks to undermine it locally or internationally. We are reminded by ANC President Comrade Oliver Tambo about the need to defend the mass democratic movement at all times.
He said: "If the attack on the Communist Party were allowed to pass without resistance, none of the democratic organisations would be spared. Today it is the Communist Party, tomorrow it will be our trade unions, our Indian Congresses, our A.P.O., our African National Congress."
Unity should bind this Alliance and also the progressive forces around the world, for us to succeed in implementing the progressive agenda. Locally, a united ANC, SACP and COSATU will continue to drive transformation in our country, supported by progressive forces around the world. I have noted that delegates will be able to attend the 25th anniversary of COSATU tomorrow, to celebrate this critical milestone.
The relationship between workers and the ANC was best described by ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli who said the ANC was the shield and workers, then the South African Congress of Trade Unions, the spear. What is unique about South Africa too is the manner in which leadership cuts across the three components, ANC, communists and the workers.
Comrades over the years have been able to serve all three organisations, the ANC, SACTU and the SACP concurrently. An example is our stalwart Moses Mabhida. He rose through the ranks of the Communist Party to become its General Secretary, while for many years he was Vice President of the South African Congress of Trade Unions.
Comrade Oliver Tambo remarked about this at the funeral of Comrade Mabhida in Maputo, Mozambique in March 1986. He said: "This combination of functions sometimes surprised and puzzled our friends who wondered why Comrade Mabhida had to serve in so many senior positions in different organisations. But, above all, it enraged our enemies.
"This combination of functions in one leader of our people upset our adversaries because it reflected the permanence and acceptability among our people of the idea and the practice of the unity of the revolutionary democratic, the socialist and the trade union movements in the South African struggle for national liberation".
Comrade OR also warned us as early as 1986, to guard against tendencies that would seek to divert us from our mission of strengthening the Alliance and focusing on the attainment of true freedom and a better life for our people and to build a better Africa and a better world.
In the same speech, paying homage to Comrade Mabhida, President Tambo said: "Accordingly, he (Mabhida) fought against all attempts to turn the trade unions into appendages of the property-owning classes and resisted all efforts to emasculate the working class as a leading social force for political change in our country. Likewise, he was fiercely opposed to all manoeuvres which sought to educate the working class to repudiate its own history and allow itself to be turned into a base for the creation of a new political formation separate from and opposed to the ANC and the Communist Party. Moses Mabhida could take no other position because he had learnt and absorbed the lesson passed on to him and to us by the late Chief Albert Luthuli: that the ANC and SACTU were to each other a spear and a shield".
That is the advantage of an organisation that is as old as the ANC, which celebrates its centenary in 2012. The history, traditions and culture guide us in everything we do. There is little room for surprises or new innovations that would destroy what the founding fathers and mothers established in 1912, when they founded the ANC in its original form.
We are indeed privileged to be hosting this meeting when we are grappling with how to quickly translate the freedom attained in 1994 to accelerated access to a better life for our people. The national democratic revolution enjoins us to work together to ensure that the workers and the poor have access to basic needs such as water, education, health services, social security, electricity, roads and other basic necessities that should come with freedom.
We also have the key responsibility to shape the economic transformation of the post-apartheid South Africa, to address the deepening inequality and poverty.
The progressive movement, especially communists and workers must answer the question why we still have a crisis of jobs, even when we say our economy has been doing well over the past few years. The recent economic downturn saw the loss of over a million jobs in our country, and job losses were continuing in the first six months of this year despite the return of economic growth.
These developments point to the core importance of redirecting and transforming economic growth in order to bring about greater equity based above all on the creation of decent employment for many more of our people.
We trust that we will be able to glean lessons from international delegates here, as to how they responded to such challenges in their own countries. On our part we have introduced a New Growth Path for discussion. It is a framework that takes into account the new opportunities for the developing world. The strong and robust growth in China, India, Brazil and large parts of the African continent provide enormous opportunities.
We outlined what we need to do in 2007 at the ANC`s 52nd national conference, where we stated that the creation of decent work opportunities should be the primary focus of all our economic policies. We are putting this principle into practice in part through the development of a programme to establish a new growth path for our country, which is currently being discussed by various social partners.
South Africa has a strong presence in many international decision-making and multilateral organisations. This presence, in our humble view, is a confirmation that sovereign, peaceful and in-solidarity progressive foreign policy adopted by and advocated by the ANC-led Alliance throughout history of the 90-odd years of the ANC is correct.
The implementation of this foreign policy should then assist us to deal with the challenges of inequality and poverty in the world. I trust that when dealing with international political economy issues, you will deliberate on the critical need for the reform of international financial and economic system. Many institutions controlling the global economy were developed during periods when many countries were still in bondage and could not participate in the decision making structures in the world. The time has come for this to be taken into account and to ensure faster transformation of the Bretton Woods institutions. There are a few outstanding matters that we would like you to help us take forward. We have been advocating for a more open, transparent and merit-based approach to choose the heads of the World Bank and the IMF.
We also need progressive forces in the world to continue advocating for the completion of the Doha Development Round. This will ensure that the developing countries have favourable access to markets in the developed world without restrictive conditions. Africa has strong potential on raw commodities and this will be the mainstay of our economies in the foreseeable future and for many years to come.
It is therefore crucial that we harness and optimize these resources in the global community where there are limited trade barriers and protectionist policies. These are some of the measures we will keep pushing, for as it is imperative that we achieve a just international financial and economic order.
Our recent National General Council underscored that the ANC continues to be the strategic centre of power, the leader of the Alliance, a disciplined force of the left, a mass movement, an internationalist movement with an anti-imperialist outlook.
Therefore the question of international solidarity remains uppermost on the movement`s agenda. We continue to support the campaign for the release of the Cuban Five and reiterate the ANC`s commitment to the cause of the Cuban People.
The NGC also called for increased trade between South Africa and Cuba as a reinforcement of our Foreign Policy and International Solidarity with Cuba. We will depart for Cuba tomorrow, the 4th of December, for a State Visit which takes place on 6-7 December, which will serve to strengthen relations between the two countries, and also boost economic relations.
In the Middle East, The ANC continues to support the calls for finding lasting, just and humane solutions to the Israeli- Palestine question. As we stated in our January 8, 2010 statement, we firmly believe in a two-State solution, this being the view upheld by the majority of the people of that region, particularly those oppressed in the West Bank and Gaza. Such a two State solution must also recognize the right of the Palestinian people to live in freedom along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as part of their territory.
Therefore, it is our firm belief that both the Israelis and the Palestinians would consequently live peacefully, side by side, with Israel enjoying better relations with the rest of the Arab world. We also reaffirm our solidarity with the people of West Sahara, and for world peace, sustainable development and coexistence of the peoples the world-over.
We will continue to support causes that advance the respect for human rights and promoting global democratic institutions at a global level. We will use our regained seat in the UN Security Council to promote these positions.
Let me reiterate our warm welcome to you all!
We trust that you will have fruitful deliberations which will enable us to take forward the quest for unity of purpose and action amongst the progressive forces in the world.
I thank you.