19 September 2010

The Party Goes Local

Development, Part 10

The Party Goes Local

The recent SACP Conference of Commissars, which was themed to discuss the Local and Local Development State, rightly gave considerable attention to the decision to re-organise SACP Branches on the basis of Voting Districts, a decision long since taken but so far not yet applied throughout the country (see the linked download).

The SACP is also determined to achieve a 500 000 membership by 2014, or roughly one per cent of the South African population.

Urban Voting Districts contain some 3,000 voters on average located within a radius of some 7,5 km of the Voting District’s single voting station. Rural Voting Districts accommodate some 1,200 voters located within a radius of some 10 km of the voting station. There are normally several, often four or five, Voting Districts in each electoral ward.

SACP Party Branches are supposed to have a minimum of 25 members according to its Constitution, which has not changed. The same rules apply to the new situation.

The next item in this last part of the Development Series will focus on the ANC’s Imvuselelo Campaign, aiming to increase its membership to one million, and the third and final part will focus on SADTU’s recruitment, which in turn is paralleled by recruitment in other trade unions both within and outside of COSATU, our federation.

Localisation of the Alliance

What are the implications of all this recruitment? What qualitative changes may arise from the envisaged quantitative increase?

The National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance is principally tripartite, consisting of the SACP - the vanguard party of the working class, the ANC – the mass, class-alliance, unity-in-action liberation movement, and COSATU, the federation of mass industrial trade unions. In addition, the small “civic” movement SANCO has a nominal status as the fourth member of the Alliance.

The qualitative change which can be expected if the SACP succeeds in creating a substantial number of branches at Voting District level; and if the ANC is able to consolidate its 100-member-plus-per-ward branch structure; and if the local structures of the Trade Union movement can become similarly well-defined; is that the localisation of the Alliance will become a practical possibility.

For many years past sundry expressions of disappointment have been heard saying that the Alliance does not function at local level. The main stumbling block to this local functioning of the Alliance was never a lack of intention but rather the lack of equivalent basic structures across the three main organisations. The SACP especially was apt to be patchy in terms of its coverage on the ground, with hardly any organisational correspondence to the ANC at branch level. SACP Districts have hardly talked to ANC Regions or to COSATU locals. Only at Provincial and National levels have the three structures been equivalent across all three of the main Alliance organisations.

The coming increase in membership of the SACP and the ANC will mean that it will be possible to populate viable parallel structures all the way down to branch level. This in turn will open up the prospect of a renewed relevance for SANCO, which can be the locus of combination with other mass organisation, of women, of religious people, and more.

The implications for the possibility of conscious, all-round development of the country in the fullest sense are profound.

The main linked downloadable document is a compilation of the Commission Report on Building a Strong SACP from the Conference of Commissars, and notes on forming Voting District Branches, including relevant extracts from the SACP Constitution.

Please download and read this document:

Further reading: