Thank you for inviting our Party to address your 9th Congress.
Your congress is taking place during an extremely challenging and complicated period in the history of our revolution. All our formations in the Alliance are faced with complex political challenges. As the SACP we believe that at the heart of all these challenges is the fundamental question of the direction of the national democratic revolution and the motive forces that should be leading this revolution.
1. Defend and deepen the proletarian character of the trade union movement
Our theory, strategy, tactics and, above all, our practical experience in 85 years of struggle, tell us that the leading motive force of the national democratic revolution has to be the working class, in alliance with the great mass of urban and rural poor. But what is the actual reality on the ground at the present time?
The reality is that much as South Africa’s working class remains fairly strong and an important layer of South African society, leadership over the national democratic revolution is intensely contested. On the one hand is the white – dominated capitalist class, using its resources to sponsor a black section of the capitalist class and seeking to influence the state and some of our cadres in the public sector, wanting to secure South Africa as a bastion of privilege for tiny elite by strengthening the accumulation regime underway in our country. On the other hand is the working class and the mass of the poor of our people, waging desperate struggles for jobs, a living wage, some eking a living on the fringes of the mainstream capitalist economy and generally fighting against poverty.
Despite many advances made by our democratic government and the working class over the last 12 years, the SACP is of the view that there has now emerged a new class consensus of the elite (both black and white) to pursue the economic path of restoration of capitalist profitability and seeking to consolidate the capitalist system as if it were ordained for our country. This is, of course, not going unchallenged, as illustrated by, amongst other things, the growing number and militancy of working class struggles over the last two years. At the heart of these class struggles is the question of whether the national democratic revolution should have a capitalist character or a socialist orientation. In our view as the SACP, an NDR that is capitalist oriented ceases to be an NDR, as it is hopelessly incapable of addressing the crises of underdevelopment and of widening poverty and inequality in our society. In fact the past twelve years are a proof of the very serious failure of a stabilized and growing capitalist market to address even the minimum of these challenges. The capitalist class is aggressively seeking to assert itself as the leading motive force in our democratic revolution. Their ambitions know no limits. They seek to contest even our own working class organizations, using their vast financial resources. For workers, unions are, in the first place, weapons with which to defend and advance workplace struggles. For the capitalist class, unions are a potential big business. They are, from the standpoint of the capitalist class, a point of access to the multi-billion rand workers’ retirement funds, to insurance policies of different types, and to millions of rands for procurement of a variety of services and products. Part of the contestation for the soul of the progressive trade union movement is that of compromising worker leaders by turning them into instruments for capital accumulation inside the unions, using kickbacks to secure union ‘business’. This is the phenomenon of business unionism. It must be defeated at all costs. The companion to business unionism is the political strategy of seeking to blunt the militancy of our unions, including serious attempts at influencing leadership positions within our unions.
It is in this context that we should understand much of the noise in the public arena that we have been hearing lately. Much has been said in the media about the purpose of this congress, including meters and meters of newspaper columns and deafening commentary in the electronic media. You have been cajoled, sometimes condemned, criticized and told what you should discuss and not discuss, who you may elect, and who you may not elect.
All of these political soothsayers and hired charlatans will be hugely disappointed because the agenda and discussions at this Congress have not been determined by them, but by the close to 1.8 million members of this giant federation. These soothsayers will be even further disappointed because the resolutions that will be adopted here are those of, by and for the workers of our country!
We say shame on you, those in the media who are sliding into ‘tabloidism’, ignoring the fundamental challenges facing the working class. Shame on you for promoting gossip, slander, rumors, smear campaigns and actively promoting factionalism within our organizations.
It is partly for these reasons that we hope this Congress will adopt a resolution for COSATU to seriously explore the establishment of a left wing newspaper — a workers’ paper, as a necessary part of the broader battle of ideas.
The only way to deepen and defend the proletarian character of the progressive trade union movement is to ensure that, first of all, we guard and protect the independence of the trade union movement. There is no contradiction between independence and being part of the alliance, though this is not without its own tensions. What is critical for the working class is precisely to maintain its independent character and organs as the only basis for meaningfully participating in the alliance to advance its own interests.
We also have to maintain the militancy of the progressive trade union movement, and fight against all tendencies to turn our unions into sweetheart unions, that meekly succumb and even collaborate with capital and elements within the state who would like to see tame unions.
‘Proletarian’ trade unionism also means a COSATU that consistently fosters deep political consciousness within its ranks, and actively takes up all the struggles that have
a bearing on workers’ struggles as a whole. Whilst COSATU is not a political party or movement, it must refuse to be reduced into a ‘gum boots and overalls’ federation. For instance, many in the media and other petty bourgeois intellectuals are trying to embarrass COSATU into not taking up matters relating to the rule of law, especially the issue of the very serious violation of the constitutional rights of the Deputy President of the ANC, Comrade Zuma. Such a focus by COSATU is opportunistically characterized as a diversion from its ‘core’ mandate, thus cynically projecting COSATU as being totally subsumed by the so-called ‘ANC succession debate’.
Yet over the last two years our country has witnessed workers’ strikes and activism on a scale perhaps last seen before 1994, taking place in virtually all the major sectors of our economy. In addition, it is as if matters of the rule of law and vigilance over the behavior of state organs is something located outside of working class struggles. It is the very same state organs, which if workers are not vigilant, could be used in future to smash and suppress working class organization and struggles.
Yet the lie is that COSATU has abandoned the workers, through its principled and Alliance-backed support for the Deputy President of the ANC. It is a lie so often repeated that even the fabricators of this ideological fairy tale now believe it as if it were true.
There is absolutely no contradiction between the struggle for vigilance over organs of state and working class struggles! To ask of the working class to divorce matters of the rule of law from broader working class struggles is a false dichotomy manufactured by the very same elite which spends inordinate amounts of money and time on opinion polls, publications, let alone ‘conspiracies’ behind the scenes, plotting about and seeking to influence the presidential succession as part of their strategy to secure South Africa as a haven for intensified capitalist accumulation. South Africa’s working class never struggled for political freedom for a rule of law governed by devious declarations of ‘prima facie cases, but without charging’ and ‘off-the-record’ press briefings for character assassination of political opponents! In essence the working class is being asked to leave matters of the rule of law to the bourgeoisie, to the elites. And this we shall never do!
In short, to deepen and defend the proletarian character of the trade union movement should not be a defensive struggle, but an integral component of an offensive to build the capacity of the working class as a whole as the leading motive force of the national democratic revolution as we shall show below.
We also believe as the SACP that, much as the matter of election of a new ANC leadership is an ANC matter, and we shall respect that, we are deeply interested in the kind of ANC leadership collective that emerges in 2007. It must be a collective committed to the Alliance. It must be a collective that respects the independence and integrity of its partners. It must be a leadership that, when confronted with the realities of debate in the Alliance, must not fall into the habit of questioning the integrity of its allies, carelessly tossing about divisive labels like ‘ultra-left’. We want to see the emergence of a confident, collective ANC leadership not threatened by internal debates within the Alliance. jost importantly we would like to see emerging from the ANC policy conference a thorough policy review, and a commitment to economic and other policies that emerge from a participatory process, that will primarily benefit the workers and the poor, and that will depend upon the mobilization of popular forces working with our democratic state for their implementation.
Again the elite says we must get out of ANC ‘succession battles’, because it wants to be the only one that tells us who must be the next President of the Republic, because it wants to influence this process without the working class being a nuisance. We shall refuse to do this. This is our country, and it belongs to the overwhelming majority of our people, the workers and the poor!
2. The working class and state power in South Africa’s transition to democracy
The SACP Program correctly asserts that our national democratic revolution seeks to address three interrelated contradictions; the class, national and gender contradictions, and that none of these can be addressed in isolation from the others.
The SACP’s Medium Term Vision (MTV) advances a strategic and programmatic perspective of building working class power in all key areas of power and influence, as part of asserting the working class as the leading motive force of the national democratic revolution. The SACP has identified at least five key centers of power in which working class power and presence needs to be build: the state, the workplace, the community, the economy, and cutting across all these, the ideological. For now, let me focus on the state, as part of posing the very important question of the relationship of the working class to state power, in the past 12 years, currently and into the future.
The best way to raise the pertinent issues on the relationship of the working class to state power is by briefly going through some of the key arguments in the current SACP discussion document. This document seeks to analyze frankly the kind of state that has emerged since 1994, in order to properly identify the challenges and tasks of the working class in the short to medium term.
The point of departure of the SACP document is that with the growing maturity of our national liberation movement and its growing rootedness amongst the masses over the last sixty years, we have collectively come to understand that the South African revolution has to address three interrelated contradictions, the class, national and gender contradictions. The SACP has always argued that the fundamental contradiction is the class contradiction; it is the key contradiction that helps to explain the underlying dynamics of South African society. The national contradiction — national oppression and its legacy — remains the dominant contradiction in South Africa, dominating virtually all facets of our society. The gender contradiction remains the jost pervasive in South African society.
The point of departure of the SACP discussion document is that from the 1950s through the 1980s, both the ANC and the SACP, and of course the progressive trade union movement, had a shared strategic vision of the kind of society we wanted to build in South Africa. This shared vision is captured eloquently in the brief but profound clauses of the Freedom Charter — each one of them, and without editing. The Freedom Charter is not a socialist manifesto as such, but who can deny its powerful socialist — orientation? It proclaims that our country belongs to all who live in it, and it proclaims that this shared belonging does not refer only to a non-racial citizenship. It says that the wealth of our country shall be shared. It says that the immense wealth of our country, created by the sweat and toil of working people, but locked up in private ownership in the banks, the mines and monopoly industries — that this wealth is common wealth.
In 1979 the ANC’s NEC produced a major strategic document, popularly known as the ‘Green Book’. It noted that while the ANC should not proclaim itself as a socialist organization as such:
"It should be emphasized [the Green Book states] that no member of the Commission had any doubts about the ultimate need to continue our revolution towards a socialist order; the issue [of whether or not the ANC should declare itself socialist] was posed only in relation to the tactical considerations of the present stage of our struggle".
This is not meant to prove that the ANC was ever a socialist organization as such, but to show that there was once a common shared perspective (certainly amongst the leading cadre of the movement) around the imperative of a socialist orientation within the national democratic revolution.
In the last decade and a half this has ceased to be a shared and unifying perspective among the leadership of our movement. The CC discussion document refers to this as a strategic rupture. It is this breakdown of a commonly shared perspective that has significantly shaped the direction of our transition over the last 12 years. There has been a shift away from this shared perspective, with a dominant (but not unchallenged) group within our movement arguing that the key strategic task of our liberation movement is to manage capitalism.
The cornerstones of this revisionism have been:
• The illusory belief that capitalist growth would provide the fiscal resources with which a technocratic state could implement a so-called NDR — with the NDR now reduced to a top-down delivery program;
• The attempt to build a leading cadre in the state around capitalist-trained technocrats and new BEE elite both organized around a presidential centre; and
• The transformation of the ANC into little more than an electoral machine with day to day politics left to a state bureaucracy.
In the analysis of the SACP’s CC discussion document the political turbulence in our country and within our movement at present has its fundamental roots in the predictable failures and crises of this revisionist technocratic project.
Twelve years into our post-apartheid reality, it is abundantly evident that capitalist stabilization and growth are absolutely incapable of resolving the deep-seated crises of underdevelopment in our country. Indeed, the capitalist economy has been stabilized, and indeed there has been growth of some 4% for more than a decade. But this stabilization and this growth are not innocent. They are directly complicit in the doubling of unemployment over the past decade, to crisis levels of 40%. They are directly complicit in the casualization and informalization of hundreds of thousands more workers. This capitalist stabilization and growth is the direct cause for the widening of the wage gap, and for growing social inequalities in our society. In short, the well-intentioned, top-down delivery of "development" by government is increasingly falling behind the deepening underdevelopment that government’s pro-capitalist policies are unwittingly fuelling.
The attempts to "modernize" and transform the ANC have ravaged the ANC’s organizational capacity. It is increasingly unable to provide local political leadership in communities, or lead mass mobilization and campaigns outside of election time.
The attempt to foster a leading cadre of emerging business people and state technocrats has resulted in multiple crises of corruption, factionalism and personal careerism. These problems are not accidental; they are inherent in trying to build a leading cadre based on capitalist values and on a symbiotic relationship between the leading echelons of the state and emerging black capital.
And directly related to this, the kind of BEE that has been promoted is very elitist, and the emerging black sections of the bourgeoisie are deeply compradorial and parasitic, that is, excessively dependent on the resources and patronage of established white capital and the state. It is not just the SACP discussion document that is asserting these things. More and more across the breadth and length of the ANC itself there is an emerging agreement and concern about these matters. The ANC’s NGC last July gave vent to these crises in a relatively dynamic way. The challenge facing the working class is to break with this capitalist accumulation path and seek to transform the many key problematic features of the state that has been built thus far.
It is within the above context that the working class needs to debate and clearly define its tasks in relation to the building of a developmental state. And it is within this framework that we should address the question of how the SACP should engage with electoral politics, a matter we hope will also be thoroughly debated at this Congress.
3. The Tripartite Alliance
Talking about matters related to the relationship of the working class to state power, necessarily poses the important question of the nature and functioning of our Alliance. The SACP remains committed to the maintenance and strengthening of the Tripartite Alliance. However, conditions since 1994 have radically changed, with the ANC becoming the ruling party, thus, we believe, necessitating a fresh look at the way in which the alliance functions. And we are happy that this matter is being raised by some of the affiliates at this congress. For instance, how does it happen that in a revolutionary and strategic alliance, the very government of that Alliance adopts GEAR and attempts to drive a privatization program, in the face of stiff resistance by its partners? How does it happen that we all mobilize and win elections, but matters of deployment and key policy decisions are entirely left to one partner — or to a small leadership group within that one partner? Clearly there is something that is fundamentally wrong in the functioning of the Alliance after 1994, as it actually does not fully take into account changed conditions, and the question of the relationship of its allies to state power. This we must thoroughly debate, and come up with concrete proposals of how to restructure and reconfigure this alliance in line with the changed conditions.
It is perhaps important that we pose new questions about the character and functioning of our Alliance. Is it not time to pose the question of whether alliance partners should not have quotas of members directly accountable and subject to recall by alliance partners? Is it not important to jointly contest elections based on a firm commitment and actual implementation of commonly agreed policy positions? Is it not time to consider the possibility of the SACP for instance fielding its own candidates, perhaps within a broader ANC list, and discuss and agree on conditions under which this happens? jost importantly, given the practical and concrete experiences of the past 12 years, what kind of policies do we need, upon which there must be a solemn commitment to implement?
4. Economic policies based on the Freedom Charter
As the working class we have gone through GEAR and all its glaring failures, we have experienced massive retrenchments and the failure of job creation, we have withstood and fought against privatization, and we have had to wage fierce struggles against the offensive of the capitalist class. It is now time that we build working class power in the economy, and forthrightly advance bold economic alternatives as the basis for taking forward the national democratic revolution.
Obviously time does not allow us to go through an extensive review and critique of existing economic policies nor the current capitalist accumulation trajectory underway in our country. But it is important to briefly outline what might perhaps be the mainstay of the new economic policy direction this country desperately needs.
Our starting point is that we must emphatically reject the rightist revisionist idea that our national democratic revolution is about managing capitalist relations, within the logic of the capitalist system. This is a very serious distortion of the aims and objectives of the national democratic revolution, and in fact an attempt at ideological distortion of the goals of our revolution by the dominant class project within our movement and the post-1994 state. The national democratic revolution needs to remain, a socialist oriented program, in which we progressively roll back the tyranny of the capitalist market. It is within this perspective that the working class must seek to advance the national democratic revolution. And it is a struggle we must wage fearlessly and unapologetically!
Our main message to this COSATU Congress is that the working class needs to mobilize for the accelerated implementation of all the clauses of the Freedom Charter. This is a program of our movement as a whole. Our activities must now focus on this in order to ensure that we make the second decade of freedom a decade of the workers and the poor. We must refuse to be told by a small coterie of government technocrats that some of the clauses of our Freedom Charter cannot be implemented because the balance of forces is not in our favor. It is us, as the working class, who best understand the balance of forces, not just in theory but in practice!
One key aspect to the realization of a Freedom Charter society is the development of an overarching industrial strategy. The SACP would like to submit that perhaps the key platform for such an industrial strategy must be the building up of our manufacturing capacity, through South African based small, medium, large and cooperative enterprises. As things stand now, we are not fully supporting a program for the effective utilization and expansion of our existing manufacturing capacity.
Building the capacity of our manufacturing sector must buttress and support the very welcome increase in spending on infrastructure, especially by state-owned enterprises. Similarly, investment into infrastructure by the state owned enterprises should act as a further spur to the development and expansion of the manufacturing sector. This will also require the strengthening of the public sector and decent salaries for all public sector workers, especially in health, the criminal justice system and education.
Our excessive reliance on attracting FDI is seemingly not delivering the goods. Looking at some of the mega projects and significant FDI we have attracted, the SACP has serious reservations. The American investment into Telkom, coupled with its privatization has led to massive job losses, enrichment of a small black elite, and the subsequent selling of US shares at massive profits on the back of retrenched workers. We may also ask, how many jobs and what developmental impact is the buying of ABSA by Barclays Bank going to have? My guess, hardly anything to write home about!
Of the wasteful mega-projects, which one of them is going to deliver tangible developmental results to our people? The Arms Procurement Deal is said to have created less than 15000 jobs, out of a promised 65 000 jobs, and it continues to be dogged by serious allegations of corruption. The Gautrain is going to cost R20 billion of public money. If it is ever constructed it will be a transport system for a handful of wealthy Gautengers. With the same R20 billion we could fix Metrorail and provide decent public transport to millions of commuters throughout our country. The billions spent on Coega are having a minimal job-creating and developmental impact. Clearly, we need a major economic reorientation in line with the Freedom Charter!
A related but critical matter in any industrial strategy must be the question of the high petrol price linked to the high international price of oil. This imposes a heavy burden on the workers and the poor, constantly faced with an ever rising cost of living, from transport costs to food prices. It is for this reason that the question of import parity pricing for oil (and indeed steel) must be placed firmly on the agenda. We produce about 40% of our oil locally through SASOL, but sell it at international prices. It is for this reason that the SACP wishes to reiterate its call for SASOL to be nationalized as a strategic company to achieve our overall developmental objectives. We hope COSATU will endorse this call, and together that we actively campaign to achieve this. We also call upon government to explore all possible means, including through research, to develop renewable sources of energy as a strategic developmental imperative.
Underpinning the building of our domestic manufacturing capacity must be a comprehensive education, training and skills development program. Such a program must not be a stand alone, but must be linked to these objectives. This means that we must drive a program to train artisans. In addition, it is time now that we implement free and compulsory education from Grade R to Grade 12. We believe we now have enough resources to do this.
We also call upon government to provide significant resources for Adult Basic Education and Training and for COSATU to mobilize in the fight against illiteracy and for opportunities for many of our workers and the poor to improve their literacy and education levels. In addition to this, COSATU needs to intensify its struggle for provision of ongoing, quality workplace skills development. It seems as if many employers are now using their contributions to the SETAs as a substitute for such ongoing workplace skills development and training.
But our education and training must not be narrowly based on technical skills; it must also be based on sound ideological grounding, production of students and cadres who understand our overall developmental objectives. One key component of this is that COSATU must call for the introduction of worker and community friendly socio-economic modules in our high schools. If capitalist business economics is taught in our schools why not also teach modules about worker cooperatives, or the need for a developmental public sector, or the struggle to resist the commodification of basic human needs, or how to organize a trade union, or a community development forum? We are also firmly of the view that modules of historical and dialectical materialism must be taught in our schools.
A key component of our developmental strategy must be the tackling of the many socio – economic problems that pose a serious obstacle to the development of our country, and indeed to our revolution as a whole. We need the working class to play an active part in the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We need to overcome one-sided emphases in our approach to this matter. Unfortunately, much as government has a comprehensive strategy towards this pandemic, the message comes across as elevating nutrition above all else. Similarly, the very heroic struggle waged by an NGO like the Treatment Action Campaign, is running the danger of being reduced into a struggle and a campaign for anti — retrovirals. The working class needs to exercise its leadership to overcome these one- sided points of emphasis.
Much more critically, in the current debates on HIV/AIDS, what is being lost is the broader question of a comprehensive health strategy and the building of a strong public health sector. We are now already faced with the prospects of a new non-curable pandemic related to HIV/AIDS, the new strain of TB. We call upon COSATU, and indeed our health workers, to play a leading role in a comprehensive public health strategy for our country.
5. The global situation and its challenges
Our detractors will say that all of our proposals are "unrealistic" in the current global situation. Yes, we are fully aware that we are living in a world, dominated by an increasingly militaristic US regime. But US dominance is not what it once was, even four or five years ago. Its military adventures are brutal but fruitless. There is worldwide condemnation of its imperialist project. The US balance of payments deficit is unsustainable. In Central Asia and the Middle East its imperialist ambitions are challenged by local societies, by an increasingly assertive Russia and China, and even by the EU. In imperialism’s own backyard, the heroic people of Cuba have weathered the worst of the special period of the early 1990s, and they continue to defend and advance their socialist gains.
The argument that there is very little we can do other than to follow the logic of imperialism and its neoliberal policies, and seek to beautify our economic policies so that the ‘Empire’ will reward us is increasingly wearing thin. We strongly condemn the US for its military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the Israeli aggression and terror against the Palestinian and Lebanese people. We wish to reiterate the call made by our Central Committee for the South African government to recall its ambassador to Israel, and for the boycott of the handling of Israeli products in our country.
Throughout the world, not least in many countries of Latin America, electorates are voting out pro-neoliberal political parties. Many progressive governments, political parties and social movements in Latin America are implementing aspects of our very own Freedom Charter, repeating our own lessons from the era of building people’s power in the 1980s. Imperialism is not invincible, and the struggle for people’s power continues worldwide.
COSATU and its affiliates are an integral part of this global, anti – neoliberal movement. We have Comrade Thulas Nxesi of SADTU as President of Education International, Comrade Zokwana of the NUM as President of ICEM, and Comrade Randall Howard of SATAWU as President of International Transport Workers. This means that not only must we to learn from international struggles, but that South Africa’s working class has a lot to offer to the world, and it is recognized as such! The challenge is how we utilise this advantage as part of our contribution to the legitimate struggles of the whole workers of the world!
6. A key task and challenge for South Africa’s working class
There are many tasks and challenges facing South Africa’s organized workers today and into the future, but, for the purposes of this address. I will only highlight what we regard as the overriding task. It is the task of building a working class-led mass movement for transformation in our country.
The working class must not satisfy itself by leading itself. It has to lead society as a whole. But society cannot just be led from the standpoint of wanting to be everything to everybody, ‘by managing the class contradiction in society’. Society can only be led progressively by consistently adopting the standpoint of the long – term strategic interests of the workers and the poor.
Flowing out of this challenge is the need for the working class to lead the emerging women’s movement in our country, as part of our offensive against gender inequality and the capitalist sexual division of labor in our society. Without the working class at the head there can be no genuine women’s movement in our country.
Many of the challenges outlined above cannot be achieved without a full scale organization and mobilization of the working class, including the important task of organizing the more vulnerable and unorganized workers, like agricultural, domestic and casual workers.
jost important, it is the building of the coherence and unity of our unions and of COSATU as a federation. Therefore we cannot allow this unity to be tampered with. It is for this reason that the federation must be protected at all costs from attempts to smear and slander its leaders, as is currently happening.
But what do we mean by unity? Unity means disciplined commitment to the vision, ideals and programs of the progressive union movement. This does not mean that there should be no debates or disagreements within our structures, but it means debating about how best to implement the program that advances the interests of workers. Once decisions have been taken after debating, everyone must stick to those decisions, and not go out of our structures, speak to the media as faceless sources, to undermine those decisions. The above therefore means that there can be no unity between disciplined cadres of the movement committed to its goals and programs AND those hell-bent on sowing disunity and suspicions within our unions and federation. There can be no unity between ‘proletarian’ trade unionism, on the one hand, and business and sweetheart unionism on the other. Any attempt to forge unity between the two can only lead to the liquidation and ultimate destruction of the progressive trade union movement in our country.
The SACP remains deeply committed to the building of a single federation. But perhaps the only route towards this is to embark on a massive recruitment drive of workers, both organized and unorganized into the ranks of COSATU, so that COSATU becomes just that one super-federation for our country. In addition COSATU and its affiliates need to build on the tactical alliances forged on a daily basis with other unions as part of strengthening worker power in South Africa’s workplaces.
The SACP, in the run up to its 12th Congress next year, will seek to elaborate on these and other related matters as part of developing a comprehensive program on the South African Road to Socialism. We invite COSATU to participate in these debates in the run up to our Congress.
We also wish to inform this Congress that our 2006 Red October Campaign will be focusing on the struggle for safe, affordable, accessible and efficient public transport, a matter we believe is very close to the working class. We hope you will support us as you have done in our other campaigns. We also wish to use this opportunity to urge this Congress to support our call for the re-opening of the land claims process, as many of our people were unable to lodge claims between 1995 and 1998. Millions of victims of forced removals have also not received proper redress.
We also urge COSATU to support our demand for a once-off amnesty for all those blacklisted in the Credit Bureaus. Whilst we welcome the fact that the Department of Trade and Industry is indeed trying to respond to our demand and is considering some form of amnesty for certain categories of people who are blacklisted. However we say this is not enough, we want a once-off amnesty for all, so that millions of our people can be able to restart their economic lives, and be liberated from the economic death sentence of the faceless Credit Bureaus. In addition we call upon government, especially the Minister in the DTI, to ensure that consultations on this matter are done with us, not just with banks and credit bureau as is happening now. Like the slogan of the Disabled People of South Africa, as the working class we say "Nothing about us, without us"!
In addition we welcome the fact that one of the resolutions for consideration by this Congress is that of a Workers Bank. We fully support this and it is in line with one of our key struggles for the transformation of the financial sector, that of workers taking control of their own resources, including the question of where and how their retirement funds are invested. Indeed our financial sector campaign has scored some important victories, including the Umzansi account which is now close to 3.5 million accounts!
We are also renewing our demand for passing of the relevant Community Reinvestment legislation by government, to compel banks to invest in low costing housing. Despite our major victory to compel banks to invest some R42 billion into this sector, the conditions they are setting for government are unacceptable. We also reject their attempts to raise interest on mortgage bonds for low cost housing from some 12% to over 20%. Together with COSATU we must fight against this.
All the above must be the basis for building a synergy between the 2015 plan and our MTV, the key platform being the acceleration of the implementation of the Freedom Charter in its totality. These are key platforms and programmatic perspectives for the South African Road to Socialism.
The SACP is confident that out of this Congress will emerge an even further proletarianized and militant COSATU!
We wish you a successful Congress!