South African’s National Liberation Movement
Tripartite Alliance Summit
Alliance Secretariat Report
5 April, 2002
This Summit is the first such gathering of our revolutionary Alliance since October 1998. During 1999 an Alliance Summit was planned but not held, and a ten-a-side meeting was instead held towards the end of the year. In the year 2000 no Summit or ten-a-side was held among the Alliance partners. While 2001 commenced with a series of positive bilateral discussions, particularly between the ANC and COSATU, the end of the year, as we all know, was perhaps the lowest point in Alliance relations since the democratic breakthrough. Aside from secretariat meetings, there has been a growing void in official political interactions between us as alliance partners. This, amongst other factors, contributed towards a breakdown of trust and the emergence of public misunderstandings and even attacks, providing fertile ground for the media and others to intensify divisions.
The ANC, following its NEC meeting in September 2001 and countrywide Regional General Council briefings in October, initiated a programme of bilateral meetings with its Alliance partners to seek to resolve some of the underlying problems facing the Alliance. As a result, two meetings were held between the ANC and COSATU (12 January and 9 -10 February 2002) and two meetings between the ANC and SACP (29 October 2001 and 26 – 27 January 2002). Following these bilateral meetings, a ten-a-side meeting was held at Luthuli House on 9 – 10 March 2002.
This report characterises the main outcomes of the bilateral process and the ten-a-side taken together as a single process. It attempts to describe some of the broad areas of consensus that emerged from this process. It does not purport to be a record of these discussions but merely provides an overview.
The bi-laterals and the ten-a-side discussed a wide range of issues. Many documents were presented by each of the Alliance partners on a number of issues. While it is not possible to provide an exhaustive account of the bilaterals and ten-a-sides, the following issues in particular were raised the course of the process:
A process of ‘clearing the air’ and building trust, after a virtual breakdown in communication and public acrimony that characterized relations towards the end of last year, in particular during and in the aftermath of the general strike. This included discussion of a common understanding of the characterization of the problems facing the Alliance at present, engaging on the ANC Briefing Notes as well as numerous documents presented by the ANC, SACP and COSATU on the characterization of these problems.
Discussion on the theory of the NDR and the balance of forces: This included consideration of the underlying theory of our revolution, its character in the current phase, the role of and relationship between the motive forces. Between the ANC and SACP in particular, discussion was entertained on how, for socialists, the NDR relates to the struggle for socialism. In the light of our assessments of the NDR, the balance for forces (both domestically and internationally) was assessed. This included consideration of how the balance of forces had evolved since 1994, and their relation to the policy choices actually made. Also discussed was the character of the balance of forces at the current conjuncture and how, in a forward-looking manner, the Alliance should act to influence them. As a whole, these discussions were not exhaustive and there was general acknowledgment of the need for ongoing debate and engagement on all these matters.
Discussions on the Nature of the Alliance. Issues flagged in the course of discussion including political basis of the Alliance, the roles of each Alliance partner in the current phase of the NDR, the nature of structural relationships between the Alliance partners and proposals on a joint Alliance programme of action. In other words, the tasks of the Alliance and the tasks of each of the allies.
Discussion also took place on particular areas of policy. This included the flagging of ideas on a growth and development strategy, the proposed social agreements and a growth summit as well as the proposed People’s Economic Summit, and the relation of these events to overall growth and development strategy. Also raised was the challenge of HIV/AIDS, and the tasks, shape and size of the democratic state.
To a large degree the process succeeded in reducing the public acrimony that existed amongst the Alliance partners. The meetings also provided a platform for frank and open engagements on the areas of disagreement, helped to clear misunderstandings and laid the foundation for the rebuilding of trust.
In addition to overcoming disagreements that resulted from misunderstandings and poor communications, the process also helped us to more clearly identify those areas where real differences remain and clarify the nature of these differences.
Nevertheless, there was broad agreement among all three Alliance partners that 2002 is the year in which we want to reposition the Alliance in order to exercise its profound responsibility to lead society. To do so, we must first take into account the new political realities and challenges that face us, through a sober assessment of the NDR and the balance of forces in the current conjuncture. The aim would be to harmonize our understanding these factors and, flowing from this, identify the key economic, social problems that confront us and, in that respect, the role of the Alliance in leading society to meet these challenges. Once this is done, it will become possible to consciously link (politically) these Alliance processes with the activities of each component of the Alliance.
Furthermore, the meetings broadly agreed on the following:
The nature and tasks of the NDR, as described in Strategy and Tactics of the ANC and the founded on the vision of the Freedom Charter.
Objective conditions and the role that both the democratic state and the democratic movement have played have resulted in circumstances that create the potential for a further shift of the balance of forces in favour of the NDR
The unity of the Alliance is of critical importance in realising the potential for further shifting the balance for forces in favour of the NDR and actualising this exceptional possibility for sustained socio economic transformation in favour of the poor.
There are divergent views on the nature, role and tasks of the Alliance, and of each of the allies, in this phase of the NDR. The lack of theoretical consensus on these issues leads to difficulties in the management of our relationships, and divergent proposals regarding the structural and operational solutions to these difficulties.
Therefore, further debate on the theoretical issues relating to the unfolding of the NDR is critical to achieving unity of the Alliance
The immediate challenge facing the Alliance and the country as a whole is to ensure growth, development, job creation, the eradication of poverty and greater equality, for the benefit the overwhelming majority of our people.
We must work to strengthen the collective and individual components of the Alliance and ensure that tensions that manifest themselves in the recent past do not recur, and are resolved through regular interactions.
A number of outstanding issues that emerged from the bi-laterals and the ten-a-side still need to be taken forward. This includes finalising the record of these discussions, the holding of further bi-laterals on issues specific to bi-lateral relations, and the ongoing discussion of a number of policy matters in various forums.
THE CHALLENGE OF HIV/AIDS
A specific discussion was held on the question of HIV/AIDS at the ten-a-side. Comrade Manto Tshabalala-Msimang made a presentation on behalf of the ANC, which outlined the comprehensive strategy for meeting the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS in the context of the broader challenges of public health policy in the context of widespread poverty.
The ten-a-side noted that, while the information provided was not necessarily new, the presentation formed the basis for further detailed consideration of the issues by the Alliance partners both separately and collectively. Discussion and the sharing of information on the strategic agenda of pharmaceutical multinationals, as well as broader questions of the politics of AIDS, should take place within the Alliance.
Specifically, there is also a need to clarify our positions, both separately and collectively, on the following:
The treatment component of the comprehensive strategy.
Mobilisation of civil society around the HIV/AIDS-related issues should be carefully considered in the light of the profound responsibility of the Alliance to lead society.
Communications strategies around HIV/AIDS including the role of the government and Alliance partners in that regard.
OBJECTIVES OF THE ALLIANCE SUMMIT
The meetings agreed that we had laid a solid foundation towards the Alliance summit. The ten-a-side tasked the Alliance Secretariat to prepare for the Summit by preparing documentation that would summarise the some of the debates that have taken place, and outcomes thereof, as well as provide a framework for further discussion in the Summit itself. It is in this light that the following documents are presented by the Alliance Secretariat as a basis for further discussion during the Alliance Summit:
The NDR and the Balance of Forces
Building the Alliance: Overlapping membership, multiple mandates and the modus operandi of inter-Alliance relations
Towards a Growth and Development Strategy
None of these documents represent the position of any component part or structure within the Alliance. They are submitted to the summit by the Alliance secretariat as work in progress, as a basis for further discussion. We hope that the Summit itself will criticise them robustly and thereby enrich them.
In this year we hope to reposition the Alliance to give expression to its profound responsibility to lead society toward a better life for all. While the Summit itself is not the end of this process, but more of a beginning, we trust that, by the end of this Summit, we would have furthered the following objectives:
Assess the current state of the NDR and the Balance of Forces, with a view to harmonizing our understanding these factors;
Exchange views and build consensus around the nature of the Alliance, including its political basis, the role of each Alliance partner in the current phase of the NDR, the nature of structural relationships between the Alliance partners, with a view to making progress towards a joint Alliance programme of action.
Identify the key political, economic and social problems that confront us and the role and programme of the Alliance in leading society toward the solution to these problems, in particular with regards to the idea of a Growth and Development Strategy, as well as social agreements that would form part of such a strategy.
Engage in further discussion on an Alliance Programme of Action as a key element in building unity in action of the Alliance partners. Such a programme should relate directly to the ANC’s programme of action (as described in the January 8th statement), and express the profound responsibility of the Alliance to unite and lead society behind political, social and economic transformation. It should also link to the participation of Alliance partners in the ANC Policy Review process and Policy Conference in Sept 2002.
Engaging in further discussion around specific issues and policy questions as part of the process of ongoing debates concerning these issues, in particular in the lead up to the ANC’s 51st National Conference in December. The following issues in particular were raised in the course of the meetings: macro-economic policy, the restructuring of state owned assets, HIV/AIDS and comprehensive social protection.
- While final agreement on every issue cannot be expected, it is incumbent on us to use the Alliance Summit to find one another on as many issues as possible. This is what is expected of us by the cadre of activists that form the common core of our movement, as well as the people as a whole