South African Communist Party

29 August 2021 No to a complacent business-as-usual attitude amid an unemployment tsunami! The Central Committee is the highest decision-making body of the SACP in between the Party’s National Congresses. We hold at least one Central Committee plenary every four months per annum. The plenary we concluded on Sunday, August 29th, started on Friday, August 27th. We held the meeting virtually to protect life against the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Central Committee discussed the Secretariat political and organisational reports covering a wide range of issues, with a focus on key economic, social, and political developments taking place in our country and internationally. This included an assessment of the state and challenges facing the working-class, the SACP, the Alliance, and the way forward. No to a complacent business-as-usual attitude amid an unemployment tsunami! The devastating (but not unexpected) announcement of new record levels of unemployment demonstrates what we all should already know. With 34,4 per cent unemployment in the narrow definition, 44,4 per cent in the more accurate broader definition, and with youth unemployment soaring to more than 60 per cent, we are living in a failing society. We are locked into a trajectory that economically, socially, morally is indefensible and absolutely unsustainable. These dismal statistics must serve as a wake-up call, not least to those in government who continue in their blinkered way to impose ultra-orthodox, neoliberal austerity. They do so at a time when much of the rest of the world, including most of our peer group developing countries, have responded to the COVID-19 crisis with a range of imaginative, heterodox stimulus interventions. The levels of social desperation in our country are evident in the fact that over six million South Africans have registered for the meagre R350 per month Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant. It is less than what the richest one-percenters in our country spend in one hour on a single light meal. It was a grant that was cruelly cut off in the middle of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. It has thankfully now been reinstated, but only until the end of February next year. Following the scenes of desperate mass looting in early July (a powder-keg of course irresponsibly lit by would-be insurrectionists) senior voices within government appeared to be open to considering a universal basic income grant. But that door seems to be shutting. Timidity in the face of crisis appears to be returning. Faith in some miracle private investor-driven labour market recovery continues to be the carrot on the end of a long stick. Tracking the official unemployment rate over the 27 years since the end of apartheid tells a different and sobering story. In 1995 unemployment in the narrow definition stood at a whopping 16,5 per cent. But that was the last year in which unemployment was under 20 per cent. With the imposition of the GEAR neoliberal shock-therapy in 1996, unemployment rose rapidly to 26,1 per cent by 1998. With increasing financial liberalisation, unemployment reached a first high point of 27,8 per cent in 2002. With the commodity boom in succeeding years there was some marginal respite, but unemployment in South Africa remained at world-record levels above 20 per cent. That marginal levelling off all came to a predictable end with the global capitalist recession of 2008. By 2010 unemployment at 25,8 per cent began its remorseless climb once more. There is a lot of correct emphasis in the health-care sector about the need for evidence-based policies. It is an emphasis that is woefully absent when it comes to economic policy. What is to be done?…

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SACP Central Committee statement