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SACP (2005)  State Power Discussion Document. Bua Komanisi V5 No 1, : 1-31.

The document that follows is in two parts, and it forms the basis for discussions both inside and outside the SACP on the relationship of the SACP to state power in a democratic South Africa. These documents are official Central Committee Discussion Documents, but they do not constitute the official views of the SACP.

Amongst the issues that our Special National Congress (SNC) discussed in April 2005 in Durban was the question of whether the SACP should contest elections in its own right. Much as there was very fruitful and informative debate and discussions, the matter was not concluded by the SNC. That SNC took a resolution that the Central Committee must establish a commission to investigate the SACP’s relationship to state power in the current period and into the future, including the question of whether the SACP should consider contesting elections in its own right.

In discussing this SNC resolution, the Central Committee felt that the best way to guide and conduct this debate must be through a structured discussion document, and this is what this special edition of Bua Komanisi contains. This document has been developed and approved by the Central Committee to facilitate such a discussion.

The Central Committee further decided that the General Secretary of the SACP must head the Commission with members of the Politburo as members of that Commission.

The terms of reference and programme of the Commission has already been adopted by the Central Committee. The work of the Commission will include engagements with all SACP structures, our allies, the broader democratic movement, progressive academics, the progressive NGO movement and the broader South African public that has an interest in one or the other on the question of the SACP’s relationship to state power. In addition, the Commission will engage with fraternal parties and movements in different parts of the world.

The key questions through which the Commission will be engaging all these formations, which are also the questions we would like to use in approaching this discussion systematically, include the following:

  • A general political analysis and response to the discussion document, and attitude towards the possibility of SACP contesting elections on its own

  • Experiences of relevant organizations on contesting elections (pro and cons, strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities) and other matters to be taken into account by the left contesting elections in capitalist societies

  • Experiences with alliances, mass movements and the working class and its various formations

  • The importance and methods of mobilizing resources to contest elections

  • The relationship between the party and its public representatives

  • Modus operandi of a Party in power and its constitutional structures and mass mobilization, including the impact of an electoral party on party mobilization, and state and party relations
    Some key considerations when in power or in opposition

  • Experiences with, and coverage by, media during and outside election campaigns, and the general behaviour and attitude of the media towards left parties

  • Part I of the Discussion Document broadly deals with the historical evolution and current status of the relationship between the SACP and the ANC, within the context of the three main contradictions that the national democratic revolution seeks to address, the class, national and gender contradictions. It aims to elicit discussions on the changing nature of this relationship, lessons that can be learnt out of it and the challenges in the immediate future.

    Part II of the Discussion Document characterizes the kind of state we have built thus far since 1994, within the context of the evolving class struggles since the 1994 democratic breakthrough. This part ends by posing some very specific questions on some of the options facing the SACP on its relationship to state power and its electoral options.

    We invite all our structures, our allies and other allied formations and fraternal organisations to engage with this Discussion Document and give us their frank and honest feedback, as part of answering the question of the relationship of the SACP to state power and its future electoral options. The SACP will also consciously seek to create numerous platforms for engagement with this Document and the questions under discussion.

    The findings and recommendations of the Commission will be tabled for discussion and decision to the 12th Congress of the SACP, provisionally scheduled for July 2007.

    Blade Nzimande
    SACP General Secretary

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