The Guardian August 1, 2001


South Africa:
Trade unions and Communist Party meet

The SA Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade 
Unions (COSATU) issued a joint statement following a meeting of the two 
organisations on July 26. The statement says that "many important gains for 
working people and the poor have been made since 1994, including 
progressive labour and other legislation, outlawing of racism and 
repression, ongoing democratisation, and the delivery of basic services to 
millions of our people."

The meeting took place as one of a series between the ANC, SACP and COSATU. 
A Summit meeting of the three organisations is to be held on September 22.

The Party-Trade Union meeting meeting discussed the following matters:

* The current political situation and its impact on the organised working 
class, unemployed and the rural poor from a working class standpoint;

* The state, role and political capacity of the trade union movement and 
the SACP;

* The struggle to complete the national liberation of black people and the 
struggle for socialism in South Africa and internationally.

The statement said that the gains made were "often overshadowed by massive 
job losses over the past seven years  one million in the formal sector".

Official statistics show the unemployment figure has risen to 26 per cent -
- 38 per cent using an expanded definition of unemployment.

Through casualisation, contracting out and outsourcing bosses are further 
seeking to subvert our democratic social, political and economic gains. Big 
companies are not investing the profits produced by workers in job-creation 
and development.

The two organisations agreed that "fundamentally, the difficulties we are 
encountering are a function of seeking to transform our society on the 
terrain of a society, and a world, still dominated by capitalism." 

"We could have done better", says the statement. "In particular, the 1996 
adoption by government of the GEAR policy, marked a significant policy 
shift and, in practice, an attempt to use capitalist means to achieve the 
goals of our shared national democratic vision. 

"GEAR and the related privatisation program have failed to achieve the 
fundamental restructuring of our society, and in many respects these 
policies have taken us backwards. 

"We agreed that, while there are serious policy disagreements, the alliance 
remains united around its long term vision of a non-racial, non-sexist, 
united and democratic South Africa. The alliance is the only vehicle 
capable of achieving these objectives."

The SACP and COSATU called for:

* The revitalisation of their organisations, including, in particular the 
ANC itself. Tendencies to bureaucratisation, the dominance of state 
technocrats in the policy process, and organisational careerism were 
dangers highlighted.

"We need to ensure that our formations are much more actively engaged on 
the ground, in the mobilisation of our mass base."

* Support for the COSATU campaign to defend and build a strong, extensive 
public sector, including publicly-owned corporations. Both COSATU and the 
SACP are opposed to privatisation of publicly-owned resources.

* The struggle against corruption and the abuse of public office. Our two 
formations will be working with the ANC to ensure that we are much more 
pro-active in dealing decisively with these problems. Corruption, 
particularly from those in public office, undermines our liberation 
struggle, and is essentially the plundering of public resources.

* The detailed elaboration of much more effective industrial sector 
policies and programs  including the transformation of the financial 
sector.

* The building of an extensive social protection net  including major 
land reform, the provision of social services including affordable 
publictransport, a basic income grant, and the transformation of existing 
resources, such as the Road Accident Fund.

The meeting expressed support and solidarity with striking workers, 
including those in Eskom and in the mining sector.

Further meetings are to held by the two organisations.

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