The SACP and "State Power"
COSATU Special Central Executive Committee Meeting Statement
COSATU noted that there are already calls from some structures of the SACP
to contest "state power". This is not a new call. We often hear it being
made when relations within the Alliance are bad or dysfunctional.
We have resolved to engage the SACP on this matter in our bilateral meeting
today [20 September 2016], because we suspect that by "state power" some
proponents of this call merely refer to being elected to legislatures or at
best into political office.
We shall have a thoroughgoing discussion on what the state and the
government of the day are, and about the location of power in a capitalist
COSATU accepts that this issue has created a lot of confusion in the
discussion around state capture with some people referring to the alleged
undue and direct influence apparently exerted by the Guptas in the office of
President Jacob Zuma as "state capture."
COSATU is arguing that in a capitalist society the state and the government
of the day do not exist as stand-alone entities, disconnected from societal
Whilst they may have relative autonomy, which is why they are contested,
ultimately they reflect the balance of class forces of a capitalist society.
The South African state is a capitalist state and so if the balance of class
forces favours the ruling bourgeois class, then the state would reflect that
bourgeois hegemony. This bourgeois hegemony is exercised over society as an
organic whole, including the state, and it imposes limits with regard to
what the government of the day can do.
Hence, despite resolutions of ANC conferences and Alliance summits,
macroeconomic policies are dictated by finance monopoly capital, whilst the
sovereign rating agencies provide an on-going oversight role.
COSATU is arguing that sometimes the organs and functions of the South
African state are even outsourced to capital, including policy-making and
Therefore the overarching question of the moment is not whether or not there
is corporate capture of the state, but it is whether the ANC has the
capacity, consciousness and commitment to use its access to the state to
resist the power of monopoly capital and to catalyse radical socio-economic
It's a different debate
This debate is totally different from the question of the alleged corruptive
relationship between the President and the Guptas, a phenomenon that is also
replicated at provincial and local government levels where tenderpreneurs
are power-brokers and influence outcomes of regional and provincial
Finally, COSATU is adamant that the only tried and tested approach is for
every setback in a revolution to be quickly studied for its fundamental
causes. Then lessons should be drawn, and a way forward should be determined
by the collective revolutionary contingent.
20 September 2016
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