The South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the Eastern Cape held a virtual bilateral engagement on Sunday, 14 June 2020. The meeting was attended by the SACP Provincial Officials and COSATU Provincial Office Bearers.
The meeting was held as part of solidifying the programmatic relations between these two left axis and long standing allies. The meeting was also important for the left axis to strategically reflect on the socio-economic conditions of the workers and the poor here in the province and globally in the face of the coronavirus (Covid-19). For we understand our programmatic relations anchored on Marxist-Leninist tools of analysis are the hope at the hands of the working class in our country.
The meeting was held on the birthday of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, who would have turned 92 today if he was alive. Che Guevara was an outstanding revolutionary who spent his life committed in service of humanity. The bilateral engagement was dedicated to celebrate the life of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, and commit to accelerate the service to humanity.
The meeting paid tribute to the frontline workers and all those who have lost their lives in the battle against the novel coronavirus. We are of the firm view that workers should at all material times be protected against this pandemic, therefore all employers must play their role in relation to Operational Health Standards. It is in this context that we fully support all actions by workers on demanding the safer working conditions and refusal to be made sacrificial lambs.
The meeting noted that the advent of the Covid-19 has affected the socio-economic conditions of the workers and the poor across the globe, for people are losing their jobs, etc. The coronavirus epidemic is not the cause of the crisis but is a trigger that has set off an economic chain reaction and as such Covid-19 has exposed the vulnerability of our country’s economy and its exposure to volatility, its systemic and structural weaknesses, and significantly weakened state capacity.
The pandemic has revealed the weaknesses of the capitalist mode of production as it is now incapable of responding to the crisis. The pandemic has once more affirmed centrality of the state and furthermore building a society anchored on solidarity, collectivism, co-operation, unity, collaboration, inclusivity, sharing, integration, uniform approach, provision of basic services such as food, shelter, and universal health care. The pandemic has also underlined the need for the rolling out of the National Health Insurance and the decommodification of the basic services.
As the labour sending province due to the spatial planning of the illegitimate apartheid government, we are to carry heavy scars of the pandemic. It is this context that we are in full support of all the efforts led by the Provincial Government in the fight against the pandemic. We are of the firm view that these efforts to be taken forward to include strengthening of the primary healthcare. It is in this context that we welcome efforts to ensure that all people regardless of their location receive medical assistance from the government. We are calling upon government to strengthen its monitoring mechanism on the practices of the private healthcare systems, for they continue to chase profits at the expense of the lives of workers during this period.
We fully support the call by the National Alliance Secretariat on expanding the social security net. It is in this context that we are calling for government to continue with the unemployment grant beyond the covid-19, it should be continued as the basic income grant to cushion young people from poverty. We are calling for a moratorium on retrenchments as such will deepen the crisis we are confronted with, employers must use all available aid to save jobs.
The SACP and COSATU Eastern Cape hold a strong view that even before the Covid-19 while enormous strides have been achieved, however, especially for the working class and urban and rural poor were in a state of acute crisis. This crisis was multifaceted, it was characterised by massive unemployment, under-employment, world record levels of inequality, grinding poverty including food insecurity, insecure shelter, indebtedness, and endemic violence, particularly gender-based violence.
The meeting expressed its view that the South African situation will no longer be the same post the pandemic. It is therefore important that there are decisive efforts in ensuring that we do not go back to the crisis before the crisis of covid-19. There should be building of the new economy which will not be for the benefit of the elite but for the people as the whole. At the centre of these efforts, it should be revisiting of the role of the South African Reserve Bank for it to play a decisive role in stimulating the SA economy. We are of the view that as we build the new economy, we should recommit ourselves in defeating the state capture brigade, that should not mean that we must support the neo-liberal agenda driven by some sections of the movement.
The SACP and COSATU Eastern Cape hold a strong view that as we battle the pandemic there is a need to build strong organisations anchored on service to the people with dignity and loyalty. We should reconnect with the people guided by our revolutionary morality. It is in this context that we are calling for an investigation in all allegations of corruption regardless of who is involved. The movement must not only be seen to be decisive but act decisively on the allegations of corruption. There must be no political protection of any alleged persons.
The meeting noted the phased reopening of schools in the Eastern Cape. The meeting expressed its concern that many public schools were opened to be closed again as there were cases of Covid-19. We wish to reiterate our call for not rushing the reopening of schools as that may lead to the crisis. To us human life is more important than anything including the academic year. We are calling upon government to reconsider the decision to allow space for the schools to be fully prepared for reopening.
The meeting resolved on developing a joint programme of action to lead campaigns against corruption, Gender Based Violence, racism, hunger and poverty. The two left axis formations will lead many campaigns in the province including but not limited to the Infrastructure Audit, Financial Sector Campaign and to vigorously campaign for the rolling out of the National Health Insurance.
Issued by the SACP and COSATU Eastern Cape.
SACP Provincial Secretary
COSATU Provincial Secretary
SACP Provincial Spokesperson