The article by Rapule Tabane (Youth, SACP Bosses lock horns on Elections, Mail and Guardian, 18 March 2005) is misleading and greatly misrepresents my and those of the Young Communist League.
Firstly, the South African Communist Party [SACP] is not divided into ‘camps’ on the issue of contesting elections as Tabane suggests.
This insinuation borders on supremely ignoring a distinction between a political debate, normal in a political party like ours, and a hostile showdown involving ‘camps’.
There is a discussion currently within YCL and SACP structures on whether we should contest for elections and there are different views [and not ‘camps’ as suggested by Tabane], which the Special Congress will help in ultimately providing direction.
Secondly, the SACP will not vote on the issue in the forthcoming Special National Congress, which has more issues to engage with and not solely the elections debate.
Furthermore, the YCL will not advocate for voting on the issue of ‘state power’, but rather, a discussion aimed at reaching consensus on the matter.
The SACP has established a tradition of persuasion and consensus in a democratic way in the instance where there are differing opinions within its structures, and thus, we are able to amicably make decisions without dividing the Party.
We believe as the YCL that voting on the matter is what will create a wedge within the SACP, and will avoid this route at all costs.
We will at all times ensure that a significant majority of members of the SACP are in censuses on the issue.
Equally, YCL National Committee discussed the issue and decided to formulate an official YCL position to be presented at the Special Congress and be lobbied with delegates to the Congress.
Ours in the YCL is not necessarily and conclusively about contesting the next local government elections or the next national elections, but about the principle of contesting and ceasing state power.
We note that the SACP might not be ready to cease electoral power due to a number of internal organisational limitations; however, we will address the principle of contesting and not the date.
We therefore are not under the pressures of concluding the debate at the Special Congress with the interest of rushing ourselves to the next ballot booth.
To us state power is not necessarily about electoral power, but about the seizure and transformation of the state in its totality.
It is about three key state apparatus, which includes parliament, the judiciary, police and army and the public service, which we seek to transform so as they are in the controlling hands of the working class and the poor, and are used to serve their needs and aspirations.
The article seeks to narrowly confine the debate into winning periodic elections, and thus, like many would opportunistically do, limits the options of the Party.
With regard to the alliance, as the YCL, we will at all times ensure that we protect its integrity and strengthen the leadership role of the ANC.
We will obviously consider various scenarios with which the SACP can continue to maintain its presence within various state apparatus, and still remain within the alliance.
Our debate is also not whether the alliance will break or not.
Bringing the alliance into the whole debate is mainly sensational, and seeks to present an intimidating consequence of the SACP contesting the elections: ‘You dare do that then the Alliance will break’ type of an engagement.
We believe that strengthening our presence within the state apparatus is the only way that the Party will remain on track in continuing with the building blocks of Socialism.
In the current political context, the ANC remains the best political home for most South Africans in representing their needs and aspirations.
However, we believe that over the next few years the role of the SACP needs to be expanded in order to further the needs of the working class and the poor, an essence of the YCL position.
This does not necessarily advance the fragmentation of the Alliance as Tabane and many others would love.
However, we should make it clear that the debate about transformation of state power, or seizure thereof, is not about the breaking of the alliance.
The debate is still at infancy and will only face its major round of real engagement at the Special Congress.
We look forward to it at the Special Congress!
By Buti Manamela, National Secretary – Young Communist League
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