THE SACP has called for an “honest” evaluation of policy miss-steps and wrong turns as the ANC gears up for its crucial four-day policy conference in Midrand next week.
Writing in the latest edition of the SACP’s online journal, Umsebenzi, deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin, was at pains to ensure that his critique of one of the ANC’s key policy documents should not be construed as another salvo in the battle for succession within the governing party.
“We are now deep into the silly season of an ANC-led movement electoral year. At the forefront of trying to promote the silliness are some of the usual hacks … especially those with the attention span of a tweetable headline,” Cronin wrote.
He denied that SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande had authored the ANC’s strategy and tactics document that argues for the need for a “second transition” to achieve the social and economic freedoms that the political emancipation of the first transition from 1994 had failed to bring about.
Some provincial ANC structures have not endorsed the idea, including Gauteng and the North West, while KZN and Mpumalanga are backing it. Cronin said these differences were being presented in the media as “factional contests” to pit ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe against President Jacob Zuma, Cosatu against the SACP and “non-Marxists” against “Marxists.”
Turning to the idea of a second transition, Cronin said the ANC document’s drafters were suggesting “that we are at a crossroads, the ANC’s centenary (Mangaung) conference needs to be a ‘watershed’ moment, (where) we definitely embark on a serious systemic transformation of our society”.
In particular, the draft document stressed the need for “substantive socio-economic transformation”.
The SACP could “only wholeheartedly agree with the spirit” of this intention, and it largely gelled with what the party itself was saying in its own draft policy discussion document South African Road to Socialism, which will be debated at the party’s own elective congress in KwaZulu-Natal next month.
However, the idea of a “second transition” was not the most useful way of approaching the challenges, Cronin said.
“This is not about retrospective point-scoring, but unless we are more honest about policy illusions in the so-called ‘first transition’, we will not adequately rise to the challenges of fundamental socio-economic transformation in a second transition,” Cronin says.
Furthermore, a failure to clearly analyse the deep roots of the country’s challenges led to a tendency in the document “to portray the economic growth path we inherited … as essentially characterised by ‘white ownership’”.
This could lead to “the assumption that deracialising ownership” would solve the problems, when there were more deep-seated features of the apartheid colonial economy that needed to be addressed, Cronin concluded.