The SACP on the other hand is “the vanguard party of the working class with the objective of advancing a socialist revolution to create socialism with the dictatorship of the proletariat… They are now shy to say this in public – but that’s fine. That is what really is the objective … aimed at creating a communist society underpinned by a classless society. That is the objective of the SACP”.

The President’s recognition of the SACP as the “vanguard” party of the working class is significant because the ANC identifies black workers “as the main motive force and the leader of the process of change”. This provides the SACP with a central role and legitimacy in directing the NDR which it has been quick to grasp. It recently stated that “advancing, deepening and defending and taking responsibility for the NDR … is a foundation for and the most direct route to building socialism in the concrete conditions of the country.” It also boasted that its perspective of the NDR “is shared by our entire alliance. The perspective is now at the centre of the programme of our government.”

The President seems to accept blandly the legitimacy of the SACP’s goal to “create socialism with the dictatorship of the proletariat” and a “communist society”. This is despite the fact that a communist society would be irreconcilable with the ANC’s own broadly democratic and multiclass objectives – to say nothing of its irreconcilability with the Constitution that he (and SACP Ministers) has sworn to uphold.

He goes on to state that, nevertheless, the objectives of the SACP and the ANC “are facing in the same direction”. “That’s why we are walking this path together, partners on the same route… at a particular point to establish our NDR”. This does not necessarily mean that the ANC supports the establishment of a communist society – but that both organisations are moving in the same direction with regard to the NDR.

The President adds that once the NDR has been achieved “…we shall stop there and go no further”. The ANC will disembark into the National Democratic Society while the SACP proceeds down the track toward a communist state. As he adds later in isiZulu, “when we finally get there (the NDS), Blade and his friends will say farewell to us and we shall watch them take on a more difficult path ahead. We shall continue to watch them from afar.” 

Significantly, President Zuma leaves the door open to the ANC also moving down the track to communism: He states (also in isiZulu) that if the ANC’s “position (the NDS) becomes untenable, then maybe we will pack our bags and follow after them – who knows?” 

The President has the following to say about COSATU:

“COSATU is a progressive trade union federation whose core objective is to fight for and defend the rights of workers and to protect workers from the super-exploitation of the capitalist class. That is COSATU… That is its objective… That’s what they must work for very hard to achieve – to make sure that the conditions of the workers at the factory floor are conducive (sic)…”

President Zuma hopes that when the goals of the NDR have been achieved, there will be no need for the workers to continue down the SACP track – but he is not sure… “When we reach our destination of prosperity the conditions of the workers will be fine… so the workers will be with us. We don’t know if the Vanguard calls them to say let us proceed, whether they will proceed or whether they will stay with us… we don’t know…”

However, the chances are that COSATU will continue to give its primary allegiance to the SACP. At its 5th Central Committee meeting in June 2011 its president S’Dumo Dlamini unambiguously spelled out COSATU’s loyalties: “We accept the SACP as our vanguard towards the struggle for socialism. It is for this reason that we will do anything within our capacity to strengthen the SACP.”

So, President Zuma is not really sure about the post-NDR scenario: “When they leave us on that station going forward, we don’t know what will happen.” Significantly, he adds (also in isiZulu) “because we shall be sitting in the same spot, ruling”. 

That is the crux of the matter. As the SACP knows, it is all about state power. Who will actually be ruling when the Alliance reaches the NDR station? The SACP has stated its intention of continuing to infiltrate leadership positions in the ANC. The political report of its 12th Congress in 2007 specifically drew attention to the 1928 Comintern Instruction to infiltrate the ANC: “We repeat: ‘Developing systematically the leadership of the workers and the Party in the Organisation (the ANC).’” By some counts 40% of the cabinet are now members of the SACP.

In his NGC remarks President Zuma was probably trying to reassure ANC supporters that power will remain in ANC hands – in reaction to growing uneasiness within ANC ranks over the SACP’s openly flouted vanguard role. This uneasiness recently flared into an open spat between the powerful “premier league” and the SACP.

Ordinary ANC members have every reason to be worried. Their counterparts in the liberation movements that participated in the national liberation phase of the Russian, Cuban and Vietnamese revolutions found themselves very quickly and unceremoniously dumped on the first phase platform – as the vanguard sped off down the track toward the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In fact, the only way that the SACP can proceed is by hijacking the ANC train – since it has no electoral support of its own. The SACP is entirely dependent on the power that the ANC gives it. The question is why the ANC continues to give the SACP so much power when its post-NDR goals diverge so sharply from the democratic and multiclass goals that the ANC professes to support?

By Dave Steward, Executive Director of the FW de Klerk Foundation