Each partner in the tripartite alliance has a role to play and should complement the other, writes Ndabezinhle Sibiya
Poor processing of issues and public spats have undermined our revolution and created an impression of an alliance that’s on its death bed, with white monopoly capital clearly behaving like hungry vultures hovering in the sky and hyenas with drooling mouths lurking in every shady valley.
Despite efforts by white monopoly capital to sustain a narrative that seeks to paint a negative picture of a dead alliance, which is being moved by a porter from the intensive care unit straight to the mortuary, I have hope that a new generation of young leaders will emerge and rescue the alliance.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to serve both Dr Zweli Mkhize (former premier and former provincial ANC chairperson) and current premier and provincial ANC deputy chairperson Willies Mchunu.
Both leaders believe in the alliance – with Mchunu being the member of the central executive committee of the SACP until recently.
As a communist throughout his life, Mchunu has displayed deeper understanding of the alliance. In my close interaction with him since May 2016 as my boss, I have come to acquire from him valuable lessons about the alliance and the role it has played over the years in advancing the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution.
On the other hand, Dr Zweli Mkhize has a deeper understanding of the alliance, having worked very closely with both Moses Mabhida and JG Zuma over the years – the leaders who believed in the alliance. Through Mkhize I also acquired valuable lessons about the importance of the alliance in South Africa and the whole continent.
I salute both leaders for their beliefs in the alliance despite the challenges we’re currently experiencing. This is what I have learnt from both leaders. The alliance was born out of necessity to advance the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution. It remains a unique alliance in which each component has a distinct role and character, but together have the effect of complementing rather than competing with one another. While there is an overlap in membership with the leader of the alliance, the ANC, it is essential that the roles of the components are understood as they define the strength of the tripartite alliance.
Focusing on the mobilisation of the working class to create a future socialist state guided by the scientific theory of Marxism–Leninism is the South African Communist Party. The Congress of South African Trade Unions is the progressive voice of the workers fighting for the improvement of working conditions whilst participating as an integral part of the liberation forces.
The African National Congress is a multi-class organisation that has its mission being the achievement of the unity of all South Africans, black people in general and Africans in particular. The purpose of this unity is to effectively mobilise different strata of society and hence lead the alliance in the creation and implementation of the programmes that will further the ideals of our National Democratic Revolution. The NDR represents an agreed programme of transformation of society which all the components of the alliance are committed to.
Much later in the history of our revolution, another component was added in the name of the South African National Civic Organisation, to unite civic bodies and take up their struggles and unite their effort in furtherance of our democracy.
Because they are formed with different objectives in mind and they represent diverse constituencies, it should hardly be surprising that alliance partners display contradictions and will differ on many issues from time to time. These are however contradictions that are possible to reconcile. None of the partners can be replaced by another nor can each partner be wished away. Each partner has a role to play and the roles cannot be reversed.
Both Mkhize and Mchunu have separately emphasised that our focus should be how we provide a platform to reconcile and resolve these contradictions. Mchunu addressed the SACP provincial alliance at TVET-Asherville Campus on September 9, 2016 where he spoke passionately about the unity of the alliance. Mkhize addressed the Alliance Summit on April 17, 2010. They both pointed out that the differences could be managed to ensure that all partners remain united to the National Democratic Revolution for which the alliance is the driving force.
I learnt from both leaders that the essential feature of the tripartite alliance is the respect for and recognition of the autonomy and independence of each partner to maintain different membership, structures and constitution and take decisions to conduct its own programmes separate from other partners.
Over the years, strong organisational discipline, the overlap of membership, regular interaction and participation in joint programmes have assisted to deepen the bond and understanding within the alliance. Adding to the above was the fact that the leaders of the alliance were men and women of integrity who respected each other and their relationship was characterised by humility. They always carried themselves as selfless servants of the people not driven by pursuit of power and wealth. They never saw their membership as a passport to amassing material possession and elevation to positions of personal importance.
Despite finger-pointing, what must occupy our minds is how can we ensure that collectively as the tripartite alliance we work jointly to deepen political development among our members to produce cadres of high calibre and integrity?
Such cadres should possess high theoretical capacity for scientific analysis to give principled leadership, energy to tirelessly work for the development of our people. They must have deep love for humanity and be dedicated to improving the conditions of squalor and poverty under which many Africans live. They must do that without falling prey to the trappings of power in their hands.
At all times we need to discuss a joint programme for political education and development to achieve this.
We must be alive to the reality that the changing socio-political and economic environment, allowing the ANC supported by its alliance partners to control the levers of power and preside over massive resources, has created a number of fault lines in the entire alliance.
The alliance partners must face up to the unintended consequences of the successes of the NDR; that in transforming society, the ANC-led alliance, as the agents of change may similarly undergo changes that may accentuate the contradictions among the alliance partners; by virtue of changing circumstances and aspirations of individual members of our various organisations. We must correctly analyse this change and its impact on the relationship of alliance partners.
In whatever manner we may gauge the progress in transforming society, defeating poverty remains fundamental. The majority of our people are poor and the apartheid legacy of rural and peri-urban squalor and apartheid-time human settlements and disease patterns remain visible features of our society. These must change.
We must explore different strategies to eradicate poverty, achieve this change and make our people the centre of the discussion of the programme of action of the alliance.
Sibiya, the spokesperson for former premiers Zweli Mkhize, Senzo Mchunu and current spokesperson Premier Willies Mchunu, writes in his personal capacity.