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Author : Kgalema Motlanthe

Address by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe at the South African Communist Party`s 91st Celebratory Gala Dinner

14 July 2012

Programme Director;
His Worship Cllr James Nxumalo, Mayor of Ethekwini Municipality
General Secretary, Comrade Bonginkosi "Blade" Nzimande;
The Central Committee of the South African Communist Party;
The Alliance Partners;
Members of the Mass Democratic Movement;
International Delegation;
The Business Community;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and gentlemen:

Let me start off by thanking the South African Communist Party (SACP) for inviting me to this 91st Celebratory Gala Dinner.

I would also like to thank the outgoing Central Committee (CC) members who had discharged their mandate with admirable ability during their term of office.

Similarly, I wish to congratulate the incoming members of the CC, who have the important responsibility to take the SACP forward as it tackles the challenges facing our society in the next five years.

Though I am not privy to the deliberations of the Congress itself nonetheless I do believe that delegates certainly grappled with pivotal issues that are not only important to the SACP but to the ANC and the nation at large.

Precisely because this is a dinner? an occasion for us to break bread as comrades, brothers and sisters? it puts me in an unenviable position where I should try as much as possible to share my humble thoughts which must nevertheless befit an august occasion of this nature, while avoiding the pitfalls of perorations and long-windedness.

This is all the more difficult given that the mouth-watering prospect of a sumptuous dinner is not known to be in keeping with indigestible political discourse.

Programme director,

Because the relationship between the SACP and the ANC is and has always been familial, it can best be described as that of siblings; brothers -with the ANC being the elder brother while the SACP is the younger brother.

But before you jump out of your skins about this comparison, thinking that I am elevating the ANC at the expense of the Party, I must forewarn you that despite this age difference matters between the two brothers did not turn out in accordance with these expectations.

In the nature of things, the elder brother is invariably expected to identify and recognise the physical and social world way before the younger one.

Inversely, the younger brother is expected to learn the basics of life from the older brother, mimicking him and following in his footsteps.

Yet if by any chance the younger brother comes into contact with advanced training and education environment that the older brother could not access, he is likely to show a precocious mind which grasps intricate matters far beyond the usual limitations of his age.

Another way of expressing the same thing is the analogy of the relationship between nature and humanity.

Human beings are part of nature and depend on it for sustenance and prolongation of life.

As you know without food there is no life ? this is not just a biological fact but a basic law of nature as well. Before engaging in any activity, human beings must eat, as the purpose of this event shows.

However, it is during the process of acting on nature in order to produce the means to sustain life that nature reveals her ways to human beings. Once human beings learn these laws they will also teach nature to behave differently.

For instance, ancient human beings had to learn to identify seeds fit for human consumption for planting. Then they had to learn the suitability of different soils for planting particular seeds as well as harvest time.

As you can see, whereas at the beginning they were students of nature, learning its ways and the best conditions under which to carry out certain tasks for their own survival, human beings would, through the act of interacting with nature, subsequently become its teacher, bending it to their will.

These analogies seek to explain the history and nature of the relationship between the SACP and the ANC that I wish to delineate this evening.

Despite their limitations these analogies help illuminate comparable social and historical conditions in a manner that is far more digestible than would have otherwise been the case.

So whereas the ANC precedes the SACP, we did not have a big brother superiority complex and in the course of time it turned out that the SACP would become the responsible younger brother who gives back by becoming a teacher to the older brother.

This equipped those of us in the ANC with the necessary tools of analysis and education needed for us to develop ourselves and successfully prosecute the struggle.

It also helped us to understand the needs of the oppressed people better and to articulate our vision for a free and democratic South Africa that belongs to all its people, black and white.

Most impressive about the SACP`s teachings, was its ability to teach scientific methods of analysis by using every day material experiences to peel through layers of complex phenomena, making them understandable to the ordinary man on the street.

This way the SACP equipped us with the mettle to keep our wits about, holding our own in rendering the apartheid machinery obsolete and unworkable.

As members of the ANC were recruited to the CPSA, they were exposed to the advanced training the Party offered.

One of the most illustrious leaders in the history of the struggle, Moses Kotane, typified this analogy of an older brother learning at the knee of the younger one.

Having joined the ANC in 1928, Kotane found the organisation ineffectual and without a programme.

A year later whilst working in a bakery and active in a trade union he was recruited to the CPSA.

At the CPSA he received education in the night school and political training through work in the ANC and the trade union which made it possible for him to comprehend the underlying nature of the South African political conditions and their meaning.

Moses Kotane`s example demonstrates the importance of both the capacity and the capability the Party possessed, which produced comrades with cutting edge political thinking.

Emphasising the point about the content and quality of the education required to arm working people and party members, Moses Kotane had this to say: `Proper education is a mirror in which man sees the world around him and learns to understand it - the right kind of education enables man to see what the world has been, what it is, and how it can change to suit him or his way of living.

Education can be and has been used to befuddle the minds of the common people. But education can also be used as an important instrument in the struggle for freedom and human progress.

It is this kind of education which we need. We must learn geography to know the universe, that there are other countries besides our own and to know the people of different nationalities inhabiting these countries.

We must learn history to know and understand the story of man`s development through the ages - the various forms of social organisation and the causes of the rise and fall of those forms of human relationships.`

This lengthy citation by Kotane serves not only to show how matured he was after joining the CPSA but also provides insight into how developed the Party was as demonstrated by the theoretical clarity of its membership.

I am dwelling on Moses Kotane at length because he embodied the remarkable spirit and history of the extraordinarily dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship between the SACP and the ANC.

Coming from an under-class background, Kotane started working at the age of 12, and only began formal schooling at the age of 15, an age at which he started learning to read and write.

His schooling, however, only lasted for two years, as circumstances forced him to go back to work. By the time he joined the CPSA, on the 22nd February 1929, he was only 24 years old and to all intents and purposes functionally illiterate.

Yet from this effectively illiterate state he was moulded into a fine thinker and leader whose impact on the complexion of the South African history is better captured by yet another luminary leader of the SACP, Dr Yusuf Dadoo, who had this to say, in eulogy, at Kotane`s funeral:

`In the life of every nation, there arise men who leave an indelible and eternal stamp on the history of their peoples; men who are both products and makers of history. And when they pass they leave a vision of a new and better life and the tools with which to win and build it. Moses Kotane was such a man...`

I am sure you would agree that to explicate this citation would be to spoil matters.

All we need to lift from this is that through advanced political education members of the SACP provided the ANC with formidable political clarity and superior ideas needed to mobilise the people in the struggle against apartheid.

In this regard, one among the many key insights that we learned from the SACP is the question of non-racialism.

From its very formation in 1921, the then Communist Party of South Africa embraced a non-racial outlook and drew to its ranks a number of black members.

Thus by 1928 the Communist Party of South Africa had 1600 African members out of a total of 1750, after adopting the Black Republic Thesis which nailed the Party`s non-racial colours to the mast and cemented its genetic make-up as a force for an equal and non-racial society.

We can thus argue without fear of hyperbole that the SACP is the pioneer of non-racialism in South Africa.

This philosophy of non-racialism embedded in our struggle made it possible for the liberation movement to marshal the broadest cross-section of progressive forces in the country behind the vision of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and just society.

However, it is worth noting that this was not only a one way traffic. It is a dual traffic between older brother and younger brother; between nature and human beings; between the ANC and the South African Communist Party.

It was a dual traffic of influence in that Party members who were also ANC members could not work within the ANC as loyal members without being influenced by the viewpoint of the ANC.

A clear inter-penetration of influences was always in evidence in the course of drafting and implementation of programmes as well as debates.

For instance, with the vantage of the ANC immersion, Moses Kotane could in his Cradock letter in 1934 advise Party members to learn the concrete South African conditions to enable them to understand the South African revolution instead of merely being experts on the European revolution.

In consequence ANC members also developed keen minds politically, impacting on the Party in various ways during the course of the struggle.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

This then brings us to the current relationship between the SACP and the ANC and the latter`s attendant expectations.

Having benefited from the SACP; we in the ANC continue to regard the SACP as a reliable ally capable of analysing the challenges of today as well as producing theoretical clarity on how to tackle them.

The SACP taught us to base our expectations on the following excerpt from Karl Marx`s Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte:

"proletarian revolutions, like those of the nineteenth century, constantly criticize themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew; they deride with cruel thoroughness the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever, recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals - until a situation is created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves call out: Hic Rhodus, hic salta! (here is the rose, here dance)"

In this regard we are confident that this 13th National Congress of the SACP will have eloquently answered the question: what is to be done? as it has always done attuned to the modus operandi of proletarian revolutions.

With these few words, aware that man must eat before pursuing politics, I wish to close by sharing with you the story told in a wonderful commercial advertisement on Bells Whisky [....].

We are gathered here for two purposes, firstly to raise funds in support of the SACP and secondly, to do justice to the eatables.

With regards to the first purpose and this alone I say with the entire conviction of its truth? give the Communist Party money!