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African Communist’s 60th anniversary celebrates SACP’s role in media

21st October 2019 BY: Thabi Madiba
Creamer Media Researcher and Writer

In celebrating the 60th anniversary of the South African Communist Party’s (SACP’s) publication, the ‘African Communist’, secretary general and editor in chief of the quarterly journal Blade Nzimande highlighted the SACP’s role in progressive and alternative media.

The magazine was started by a group of Marxist-Leninists in October 1959 and has been part of many other media outlets which were historically associated with the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA), including 'Umsebenzi' which was renamed from 'The Worker' in the 1930s.

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Delivering his keynote address at the African Communist seminar hosted in Johannesburg on Monday Nzimande said the SACP not only had a long history in progressive media but that they had fought for that place, which was why the SACP was concerned with certain things being reported in the media today.

Nzimande said in celebrating the 'African Communist', the party was celebrating the ideological and educational role of the 'African Communist' and its political contribution in the struggle against colonialism.

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“Other publications [that] played a crucial role include 'The New Age', although in this regard we have a huge struggle to try and reclaim this glorious publication given what later patriated itself under the name of The New Age, as an instrument of the networks of State capture,” cited Nzimande.

He explained that the history of the 'African Communist' can be traced back to the time when the apartheid regime came to power in 1948, whereby its very first piece of legislation (the Suppression of Communism Act) was directed at the communist party.

Nzimande added that the communist party decided to dissolve itself before the passage of that legislation, citing that there were big debates among the leadership, with some disagreeing on this course.

There were also big debates in the lead-up to the formation of the SACP in 1953 about whether the communist party should be reconstituted underground, as it was an illegal organisation.

The CPSA reconstituted itself as the SACP in 1953.

“Before passing away, anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada insisted that it should be known where the reconstitution took place - at the back of an Indian-owned shop somewhere in Ekurhuleni, which by the way I think this is part of the task that we have in tracing our history to try and identity this building and these places, just like we did when we identified the site of the founding congress of the SACP in 1921,” said Nzimande.

PRAISE OF THE GOOD WORK

African National Congress president Cyril Ramaphosa also addressed the seminar and encouraged the SACP and 'African Communist' to continue their work of strengthening South Africa’s democracy, adding that the publication played an important role in sharpening the country's understanding of non-racialism.

Ramaphosa said the journal is viewed as an integral part of the communist revolutionary conscience, warning communists on the slow pace of socioeconomic transformation, the dangers of corruption and capture of the State by private corporate interests.

“The erosion of our moral credibility, the weakening of State organs and the resultant decline in our electoral support - all of these have been warnings, but they also need to be turned into the call to action,” said Ramaphosa.

Among other delegates in attendance were Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali, former SACP central committee and politburo member Essop Pahad, SACP activist Mcebisi Jonas, SACP central committee member Lechesa Tsenoli and SACP politburo member and co-editor of the 'African Communist' Jeremy Cronin

EDITED BY: Sashnee Moodley Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia
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