The SACP and the YCL are not divided on what the outcomes of the Party’s Special National Congress are as suggested by Vicki Robinson (‘Not now-but not never’ Mail & Guardian, April 15 to 21 2005)

On the contrary, both the SACP internal structures, together with the YCL, remain united on the path towards building Socialism Now!

The YCL and the SACP are divided on what should be the correct path for debating the question of an electoral path.

There were different views that were presented at the Special Congress by delegates, both from SACP structures and from the YCL.

The fact that a decision was reached at Congress shows the level of appreciation of debates within the SACP and benefits of a long-standing tradition that the SACP has established, that of building and retaining unity within its structures.

The question of whether the SACP should go for elections alone – posed in the article by Robinson as though the Alliance will break – was resolved by Congress unanimously through the setting up of a Commission which will look into the matter.

The YCL championed the advancement of the resolution for the setting up of a Commission, and believed that this is the only proper route that the SACP should take in taking a popular decision around an electoral path.

The unity of the Special Congress was around setting up of this commission, which does not have a predetermined conclusion, but will weigh all the options available for the SACP in advancing a socialist path for and with the working class and the poor.

The role and work of the Commission will be to ‘assess the opportunities, challenges and threats to the achievement of our Medium Term Vision of building a Party of power, influence and activism.’

The Commission’s work will also include the development of strategic options with regard to electoral participation by the Party.

The commission should, amongst other things, assess the organisational capacity and readiness of the SACP; canvass the views of the organised working class and workers and the poor in general; engage our Alliance partners and other progressive social formations; assess the extensive electoral and state-power experience, both positive and negative, of our own Party and of Communist and other Left parties world-wide, and of the variety of organisational forms in which the Left is or has contested and exercised power.

The YCL has committed itself to support the work of the Commission, and if invited, will contribute into its work and ensure that its outcomes guide the SACP in the current phase of the revolution.

Of interest to the YCL is what the impact of an electoral path for the SACP will be as it relates to the Alliance.

The SACP has been in the forefront of ensuring that its Alliance with the COSATU and the ANC remains an important trajectory in giving hopes to people of our country.

Opting for an independent electoral path for the SACP will change the manner within which the Alliance operates.

Another interesting point will be to look into the impact that an electoral path will have on the internal organisation of the SACP.

Experience has showed that most political parties are transformed into election machinery once they participate in elections.

The Democratic Alliance, Kiss Party, the late New National Party and the PAC are but examples of such.

We will obviously need an SACP that will still engage on the land and agrarian reform and the financial sector transformation campaigns.

We will not anticipate an SACP that is consumed into elections.

Robinson quotes me as saying that that delegates to the Congress agreed that the only reason why they voted for the ANC was because there was no hammer, sickle and star.

I said no such thing.

There was a delegate who indicated at the Congress such a sentiment, but this does not represent a Congress agreement to the issue.

As indicated earlier, the different views expressed prior to a resolution being taken remains immaterial and that we are all bound by the decision.

The last issue relates to the YCL and the fact that there are some in the SACP who act as gatekeepers to its growth.

The Special Congress took a decision that it will be the responsibility of all the SACP structures to build a strong YCL, and conversely, the YCL should build a strong SACP.

There are no individuals or structures of the SACP that sees the YCL as eroding on its traditions.

The YCL will await, like all other SACP structures, the outcome of the Commission and engage with them at an appropriate time.

At the moment, any suggestion of a divided SACP or YCL remains melodramatic and lacks the truth.

Buti Manamela
National Secretary
Young Communist League.
Cell: 082 567 3557