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  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU statement on the commemoration of the 22nd Anniversary of the death of Cde Joe Slovo

6 January 2017

The Congress of South African Trade Unions joins all progressives in South Africa, today, 06 January 2017, to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the passing away of the former General Secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Comrade Joe Slovo, one of our country`s foremost revolutionaries and thinkers.

We remember Cde Joe Slovo, a committed Marxist, who very much appreciated the Alliance between the ANC, the SACP and COSATU ,and who also taught us that the revolution cannot be advanced in just one single corner but that it should be fought in all terrains of struggle.

In honour of Cde Slovo, workers should dedicate themselves to fighting divisions and disunity amongst their organisations and in the Alliance. We owe it to stalwarts like him and many others to ensure that our NDR deepens uninterruptedly towards socialism.

We must continue to analyse our political environment in order to develop proper responses to all challenges facing our revolution. In the modern era, factionalism has developed when people began to position themselves ahead of the movement, and this has bred some traitorous trends and tendencies with dire consequences for the movement.

The working class in general should unite and take time to reflect on the state of our revolution and diligently work to build a firm foundation for a future socialist and ultimately communist society.Cde Joe Slovo in his writings reminded us of the moral superiority of socialism and in his actions, he always embodied the best traits of a selfless revolutionary.

The immediate priority for all progressives at this point in time is to come up with concrete and practical programmes to help bring about the necessary fundamental economic transformation in our country. Our definitive goal and priority should be to liberate the working class especially blacks from economic bondage, so that they can also enjoy the fruits of democracy.

We should honestly deal with the fact that capital has gained more from democracy than the working class and also address the failed economic expectations of the majority.

We should not downplay the failure to improve the economic situation for most of our people. Recognizing that the year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution; we should heed and take lessons from the demise of the Soviet Union. In his articulation of the reasons that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, its eighth and final leader Mikhail Gorbachev, observed the following:

"Government and the Party Leadership gradually became alienated from the ordinary working people; they formed elite that ignored the opinions and needs of ordinary people. From the side of the leadership came the propaganda of success, notions of everything going according to plan, while on the side of the working people there was passivity and disbelief in the slogans being proclaimed ... the leadership organised pompous campaigns and the celebration of numerous anniversaries. Political life became a move from one anniversary celebration to another."

Whilst, we cannot afford to ignore the real imperialist shenanigans, especially from the Western countries ,we should also not mask our failures by promoting conspiracies of imperialist plots to subvert the revolution and encourage a general siege mentality.

This though does not mean that we should not work with other class forces to take forward our NDR. We should continue to forge alliances with other class forces as long as we do not allow them to swallow us and liquidate our class perspective. The question of ideological "puritanism" was properly addressed by Cde Joe Slovo in his pamphlet "The South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution". He wrote:

"Class struggle does not fade into the background when workers forge alliances with other class forces on commonly agreed minimum programmes. The history of all struggles consists mainly of such interim phases. What is the essence of conflict during such phases if not class struggle? There is no such thing as `pure` class struggle and those who seek it can only do so from the isolating comfort of a library arm-chair".

This is very significant because frustration and anger has seen some sections of the working class retreating to the populist camp of ideological Puritanism. We have to acknowledge and understand that workers cannot afford the luxury of isolating themselves by standing on a self-indulgent high-moral ground, merely satisfied with militant sounding slogans and ideological purity when other class forces are shaping the future of our country. The material conditions of this conjuncture indicate that we cannot escape the heavy duty of building working class power in the workplaces, communities and all other strategic centres of power. We can only do this through working together with other class forces on commonly agreed minimum programmes as Cde Joe Slovo argued.

In honour of Cde Slovo , we must all work to develop the capacity to fight monopoly capital and the parasitic bourgeoisie, who seek to steal our movement away from being at the service of the people, to being at the service of capital.

We must boldly fight the institutionalization of the culture of accumulation by all means and at all cost by many in our Alliance ranks. This has opened us up to abuse by capital as seen in the new tendency to display opulence in the pool of poverty in our country. We must summon from the grave the modesty, selflessness and revolutionary morality of Cde Slovo

We must reclaim our revolutionary morality, not just in words but through our actions!

Long live Cde Joe Slovo! Long Live!

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794