A sea of red surrounded the almost 2000 strong opening session of the South African Party's 12 Congress in Port Elizabeth on Thursday. The delegates received greetings from ANC Secretary-General Kgalema Motlanthe and the Communist Party of China, and received the main political report presented by SACP General Secretary Blade Nzimande. Molanthe in his address to the Congress stressed the goal of the SACP in seeking and struggling for a socialist path in South Africa.
Molanthe referred to ANC president Thabo Mbeki's stress a recent ANC conference that the ANC respected the SACP singular role in leading the fight for a socialist transformation of South Africa, adding that this was not the ANC's purpose. Nzmimande also used the ANC's president remarks as one of the points of departure for the political report of the outgoing CP central committee. Nzimande said that the press had distorted the president's meaning claiming that it was rebuke of the SACP.
The SACP leader went on to point out a a number of key struggles that the SACP had taken initiative on. Most important in his view was that the ANC had in the recent period adjusted its policies and now favored the concept of a developmental state and a new industrial policy. The goal of the party he argued is a working-class led national democratic revolution.
Nzimande's address was followed by remarks from delegates, many of whom expressed frustration at the slow pace of change. The relationship with the ruling ANC was a theme that ran through almost all the presentations. The ANC has a mandate from 70 percent of the South African population.
The convention will continue on Friday with an address by the leaders of the COSATU and the YCL. Curiously no mention was made at the opening session of the strike of 230,000 metal workers, now in its fourth day. The SACP has recruited over 30,000 members since its last Congress.