Uhuru-Spirit Interview


SACP's Western Cape Provincial Secretary Khaya Magaxa

Date Posted: October 09, 2013

The South African Communist Party in the Western Cape Province recently held its 7th Provincial Congress. UhuruSpirit editor Comrade Hilary Ojukwu met with Comrade Khaya Magaxa to talk about their successful congress

UhuruSpirit: Congratulations Comrade on your reelection as the Provincial Secretary of the SACP in the Western Cape.

Khaya Magaxa: Thanks a lot.

UhuruSpirit: Could you briefly outline some of the important resolutions and outcomes of the Western Cape SACP Provincial Congress?

Khaya Magaxa: Unfortunately we have not yet consolidated the resolutions. But there are key decisions, of course, that came out in the form of a declaration towards the end of the congress. Centrally to that, we recommitted ourselves to the National Democratic Revolution led by the African National Congress. And as a party, we declared to take full responsibility for the ANC-led National Democratic Revolution. What does that mean? It means that as a communist party, we are part and parcel of that struggle and we are taking full responsibility for any good or bad that emerge in that struggle. We are saying that whatever happens in that struggle, we are taking full responsibility because we are part and parcel of it. Since the ANC is a multi-class and a multi-ideological movement, we are aware there are times when decisions will go against our positions as communists. Thus, we are saying that whether decisions in the ANC go our away or not, we will stand by and defend those decisions because we are part of the struggle led by the ANC.

UhuruSpirit: The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is presently experiencing a major crisis that culminated in the suspension of the General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Did you in any way deliberate upon the situation in COSATU during your congress?

Khaya Magaxa: We always discuss in the party issues that affect any of our alliance partners. So, we always consider issues in the ANC and COSATU because apart from being part of the ANC-led alliance, there are members of the SACP who are also members of the ANC, or COSATU or both. It is therefore natural that any problem in any of those organisations also, directly or indirectly, affects us as SACP.

However, it is the responsibility of the respective organisations to resolve issues and challenges that may arise from time to time. As party, we say that we are happy with the manner in which the Central Executive Committee of COSATU is handling the challenges facing the trade union movement. As the SACP, we support the CEC of COSATU and we believe that it is only COSATU that can determine the way out of the quagmire it now finds itself in. Of course, we have made mention, through our General Secretary, when he was addressing our congress that some of challenges that need to be dealt with is the service of members of COSATU. We feel that the needs of the members of some of the COSATU affiliates are currently not well taken care of. Hence, we have suggested, as our General Secretary said, that COSATU, through its president, should set up a committee to look into how to improve service delivery to its members.

However, the issue of the suspension of the General Secretary of COSATU is an internal matter that only COSATU can resolve.

UhuruSpirit: The COSATU President, Sidumo Dlamini, who is also a member of the Central Committee of the SACP, has been accused, even by some unions like NUMSA, of spearheading a plot to destroy the suspended General Secretary of COSATU Zwelinzima Vavi politically. How do you see the whole thing?

Khaya Magaxa: Well, Numsa has made a lot of unfortunate pronouncement, including insulting the South African Communist Party. They have insulted the President of COSATU. They have also insulted the SACP General Secretary and they have equally insulted the First Deputy General Secretary of the SACP. In fact, they have insulted everybody in the party.

However, we have confidence in COSATU President, Sidumo Dlamini, because he was elected in the congress of COSATU. We still have confidence in how they are handling the affairs of COSATU and so we are fully backing the CEC of COSATU to resolve the challenges facing COSATU. Because if an affiliate, like NUMSA, is allowed to speak on behalf of COSATU, then we will have a major problem. COSATU is a federation of many different affiliates. So, COSATU is the key custodian to pronounce on its internal matters – not the affiliates.

The General Secretary of the SACP emphasized in our congress the importance of NUMSA having bilateral meetings with the SACP. And as a party in Western Cape Province, we are also calling for that. We believe there is a need for SACP and NUMSA to have a meeting. Unfortunately letters to NUMSA in that direction have not received any positive response.

UhuruSpirit: Are you not worried that all these things are happening a few months before the 2014 general elections?

Khaya Magaxa: Of course, it is a problem. In fact, that is what the enemies of our national democratic revolution want. When they find a possibility for a serious conflict within the alliance, they jump to exploit it. We have seen the bourgeois media trying to use it as a cover to instigate and encourage some kind of division within the alliance. This always worries the SACP because we believe that the unity of the working class is paramount for the NDR to be advanced.

UhuruSpirit: Your ANC-led alliance is the opposition in the Western Cape. What kind of decisions did you make with regards to the 2014 elections during your congress?

Khaya Magaxa: Yes, there were a lot of discussions in almost all the commissions about the need to consolidate the ANC support in the Western Cape. We believe that this initiative must be led by the SACP in the Western Cape because as a party we are better positioned to mobilize and unite the coloureds and African working class for us to win the Western Cape. We also resolved to work very hard as the SACP, together with other alliance partners, to build structures where they don’t exist. Because without those structures, it will always be a challenge to win wards. Therefore it’s very critical that we build those basic units of the organization in those areas.

UhuruSpirit: How do you think the ANC will perform in Western Cape in the 2014 elections?

Khaya Magaxa: The reality of the situation, currently, is that the DA has performed dismally. It has failed the poor in the Western Cape. Since it came to power in the province, the DA has poured its efforts into servicing the affluent communities. Well, we are not surprised because the DA is a party of the rich. However, the ugly outcome is that the people in areas like Khayelitsha continue to bear the brunt of outright negligence by the DA government. These unfortunate poor people remain exposed to the vagaries of nature like floods in the winter and fire outbreaks in the summer because of congestion and sanitation problems. It’s not only that, the DA has been closing schools in poor communities. Now, it is well known that the DA has failed the poor communities when it comes to the provision of basic services. So, it’s not difficult to see why the Western Cape occupies the number 1 position in terms of public protests in the country. We know that the DA has tried to sidetrack this fact and relegate it to an ANC conspiracy, which is not true. There is no ANC involved in most of the protests organized by the poor in this province. People on the ground are experiencing serious lack of services and are taking actions about it.

So, I believe we can win this province. It is clear, beyond reasonable doubt, that on the basis of DA’s miserable performance since coming to power in the Western Cape, the ANC is still the best leading political organization for the benefit of the poor. Perhaps, the DA is good when it comes to servicing its own constituency – the rich white people. And we are now left with the ugly result that the poor has suffered more under the DA.

UhuruSpirit: The membership of the SACP is growing tremendously in Western Cape. What is the reason for this?

Khaya Magaxa: We are a party of the working class. We are party of the, solely, without mincing words… We are a party of the have-nots – the poor people. The thing is that our efforts to grow the party in Western Cape were thwarted by resource challenges in the past. So, we found it difficult to build structures of the party in communities such as the West Coast, Karoo and Overberg. We mainly concentrated our works in the Metro and some areas in the Boland. But with improvement in our financial capacity, we have been able to go to areas we’ve never been to before. The West Coast is the second biggest district now after the Metro. And it’s purely farmworkers that we mobilized there. Perhaps, strikes by farmworkers in recent times also contributed in a way. We have also witnessed the growth of the party in Overberg. All these years, we have had branches only in Grabouw. But our membership has increased in the Overberg area. It has even overtaken Boland and is now the third biggest area in our party. What this means is that the working class in poor rural communities have associated with the SACP not because of any propaganda we have made, but because the party can say something in the interest of the working class that cannot be said by other parties.

UhuruSpirit: The SACP has launched the popular “Red October” Campaign. What will be the highlights of this year’s campaign?

Khaya Magaxa: What we will do as a party is to consolidate on all our previous “Red October” campaigns, especially those that seek to tackle the daily problems faced by the ordinary people in the country. Today, there is a growing indebtedness among the working class people. A good number cannot afford to buy houses and others have had their RDP houses confiscated by the banks. Our Financial Sector campaign is meant to help alleviate these issues. The other important aspect of the campaign is the issue of rural development and the need to improve the quality of life of the people in the rural areas.

UhuruSpirit: How is the relationship between the SACP and COSATU in the Western Cape?

Khaya Magaxa: Organizationally-speaking, the SACP, ANC and COSATU always have a normal organizational relationship. Of course, sometimes there is an element in COSATU of some tendencies, especially in our province. This is an issue we always raise sharply as a party without fear or favour. There is a problem of workerist tendency in the Western Cape which sometimes frustrates the working relationship between the vanguard party of the working class and COSATU. Some individuals within COSATU sometimes feel that COSATU itself is a revolutionary political party. They forget that they are in a trade union actually. And a trade union is more about the improvement of the conditions of workers. They sometimes elevate it to another level and it is that workerist tendency that we are still battling with in our federation in the province. So, generally speaking, we have good relationship with COSATU, apart from that particular tendency that we have to defeat because it’s counter-revolutionary actually.

UhuruSpirit: You were re-elected for another three year term as the SACP Secretary in Western Cape during the congress and you have been serving for many years. Is this going to be your final term?

Khaya Magaxa: In the party we don’t have that fear that one has to be worried about two terms or three terms in office. This is not our office; it belongs to the working class. We don’t follow what is called bourgeois democracy in our party. We’ve got what is called democratic centralism and our democracy is totally different from bourgeois democracy. We are not in a beauty competition of some sort and we don’t owe anyone any explanation as long as our party members know what they are doing in terms of democratic participation and driving a revolution. At the end of the day, our ultimate goal is to defeat capitalism and enthrone socialism. Our party is not built around any one individual. We have a secretariat; we have a provincial working committee; we have a provincial executive committee; we also have the highest decision making body between congresses – the provincial council. These are the structures that lead our revolution.

UhuruSpirit: You are also a member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature. Is there no conflict between your role as the SACP Provincial Secretary and that of being a member of the provincial parliament?

Khaya Magaxa: While you have mentioned two positions, the fact of the matter is that they are three. I am a member of the Provincial Executive Committee of the ANC; I am a member of the provincial legislature and I am the Provincial Secretary of the SACP. I have got three titles! Actually, I need a fourth one to become a full-fledged activist…… LAUGHS!!!

As part of our current efforts to advance the cause of socialism, we have realized that communists must occupy all key spheres of power in society. That is, communists must be everywhere and a true communist must be like a Holy Spirit. For us to change this society we must be able to influence the society and there should be no decision taken without the influence of the working class. So, we want communists to be everywhere – even in churches, mosques and others. We want to see communists in the educational institutions. We want communists to control the media, so that it is not reduced to a capitalist organ against us.

UhuruSpirit: Often, we are told that communism is a dead and outdated ideology by some of its detractors. In many instances, the Soviet Union is cited as a testimony that communism is only a utopian which cannot work anywhere. How do you respond?

Khaya Magaxa: There is no science in that. The idea of communism being dead is nothing more than a capitalist propaganda because we are their enemies. They can say anything in order to diminish our history and demonize the communist party. They hate us because we are their class opponents. Last time, they said we are evil, now they say we are dead. There are countries that are run by communists. The Chinese economy, which is currently doing better than any Western economy you can think of, is run by communists. What is dead there? Despite the illegal economic embargo imposed on it by the United States of America, there is no country in the world that offers a better educational system than Cuba. Moreover, there is no country in the world that can compete with Cuba when it comes to health. Despite the challenges, there are no beggars in Cuba, because everyone has access to food. Now, what is outdated about a system that gives everyone free access to education and health? What is fashionable to our enemies is to see two-thirds of the majority in poverty. They want to keep two-thirds of the majority without access to suitable healthcare facilities. What is fashionable to them is to see two-thirds majority living in the squatter camps – squashed like sardines. But to us as communists, impoverishing the people is not fashionable. This is why, today, many young people are still joining the party. Look at our 2nd Provincial Deputy Secretary of the party, he is a young man.

UhuruSpirit: How old is he?

Khaya Magaxa: He is only 27 years. He is well educated and could have chosen to lead a very comfortable lifestyle. But he refused to do that because he wants to see everyone gain access to the education he got. That’s fashionable!

SACP's Western Cape Provincial Secretary Khaya Magaxa with the newly elected SACP's Western Cape 2nd Provincial Deputy Secretary Barry James Mitchell
UhuruSpirit: But what about the argument that socialism failed in the former Soviet Union?

Khaya Magaxa: The former SACP General Secretary Joe Slove answered that question as far back as 1989 when he wrote in his paper and said that socialism did not fail and will never fail. What failed in the Soviet Union was bureaucracy – the bureaucratic way of running socialism.

UhuruSpirit: Yes, despite that, there are many communists, today, that are proud of Joseph Stalin, who was blamed for creating that bureaucracy you talked about. A good number, in fact, call themselves Stalinists.

Khaya Magaxa: I am also proud of Joseph Stalin, actually. LAUGHS….

It is annoying to see people link every negative thing in the former Soviet Union to Stalin. But socialism collapsed there after many decades of Stalin’s death. What happened in Soviet Union was not one dimensional. It was actually multi-dimensional. One of the dimensions was the consistent bureaucratization of state power. Another dimension to it was the role played by the West. But if you take one dimension and ignore the other, then there is a problem. Throughout the period of its existence, the Soviet Union was under siege by the West. They had launched a stinging attack on many fronts – the economy, infiltration by enemy agents for various covert operations designed to undermine the Soviet Union, propaganda, among others. So, it’s not just one thing that happened. A collection of many things happened in the Soviet Union that brought about its collapse. Even with state bureaucratization, you need to understand that part of the reason it had happened the way it did is because they were trying to tighten screws because they were under siege. And I get worried when people run away with the name Stalin as if Stalin was evil; as if Stalin was worse than Winston Churchill or Woodrow Wilson and other American killers, including George Bush, who was attacking people all over. Even Obama is worse than Stalin!

UhuruSpirit: You really sound like a Stalinist, Comrade Secretary. Are you a Stalinist?

Khaya Magaxa: I am not a Stalinist, I am a Communist. LAUGHS…..

UhuruSpirit: On this note, I thank you so much for your time.

Khaya Magaxa: Thank you Comrade Hilary.

Post your Comment

comments powered by Disqus