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SA Communist Party; Towards apostasy

By William Mervin Gumede, Financial Mail
2 June 2000

Tactical alliance with capital?

The SA Communist Party (SACP), at its national strategy conference in Johannesburg last weekend, wondered whether it wasn't time Africa's oldest communist party embraced capitalism.

"The key question (we) need to debate and refine is whether or not it is time now to approach domestic public and private capital resources in a new way," says a conference resolution. It goes further: "Is it not about time we seriously consider and propagate the type of tactical alliances we need to form with sections of domestic capital (black and white) around a developmental agenda?"

Such an agenda, it says, would be based on business giving a commitment to invest in job-creating sectors of the economy. The "toenadering" between Cosatu and business to form a Millennium Labour Council is the start of a "tactical alliance with capital". Cosatu's co-operation with business - such as their joint campaign against IMF gold sales, and the gold summit between the National Union of Mineworkers and mining companies on job losses - must be seen as a new way of coming to terms with the market.

But it cautions against the liberation movement adopting the left-wing slogan "a market economy, yes; a market society, no" because it "tends to embody the illusion that a more humane society can be built by working with, rather than dialectically (with and against), the logic of capitalist accumulation".

Of Cosatu's national strike on May 10, the party says: "It is not clear that Cosatu or the SACP have learnt to conduct themselves in the new environment in a way that does not cause anxiety among their colleagues in government."

On the tension within the tripartite alliance, the SACP says: "The glue . . . that held the multiclass alliance that is the ANC, SACP and Cosatu together prior to 1994 has shown signs of being inadequate in this new period." It warns against government policy being made by "technocrats": "The ANC risks becoming a transmission belt if major policy issues are not debated in its structures first, but worked out in the corridors of government and brought to the ANC for rubber-stamping."

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