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Take Socialism Forward - SACP/COSATU bilateral

The national leaderships of COSATU and the SACP met in a high-level, all-day
bilateral on February 12 - the focus of the discussion was taking the
project forward. The discussion between the leaderships of the two major
socialist formations in our country occurred against the background of
important strategic resolutions on socialism taken at COSATU's Congress in
September last year. It also occurred in the immediate context of the ANC's
December national conference, in which the ANC reaffirmed, without any
complexes, that its two major alliance partners were socialist.

Both the SACP and COSATU acknowledged the need to move increasingly from broad
brush strokes to the mapping out of concrete and specific socialist-oriented
policies and programmes of action.

Among the major organisational decisions taken at the bilateral were:

* The implementation of the COSATU Congress resolution on building SACP
work-place units. Most, although not all, of our Party base structures are
residential. Both the Party and COSATU acknowledge the need to build a
communist party political presence at the work-place itself. But how, in doing
this, do we avoid creating parallel structures, SACP structures that
second-guess, or even undermine the democratic trade union structures? While
these things have to be worked out in specific circumstances, the bilateral
agreed that there would need to be a clear understanding that the role of the
SACP structure would not be a trade union role but rather an ideological and
political education role. According to circumstances, the work-place SACP unit
may be based on an industrial location, cutting across several work-places and
COSATU affiliates. This could be one deliberate organisational arrangement to
safeguard against the danger of an overlapping between a union structure
and an
SACP structure.

* Both formations will expand the already significant cooperation in
joint-political education work.

* Concrete proposals were made and are being followed up on the COSATU
resolution to provide material support to the SACP.

The bilateral also considered initiatives around socialising the economy. It
was agreed to pursue an in-depth project of research, and of practical work
around the co-operative sector. The more strategic use of worker investment
initiatives was also discussed.

On the critical question of democratising and transforming the public sector,
the bilateral agreed that we must work to ensure the effective implementation
of the Tripartite Summit resolution to establish an alliance task group, under
ANC President, Thabo Mbeki. The bilateral also agreed that the tripartite
alliance must ensure that there is a common alliance strategic perspective on
job creation ahead of the Presidential Job Summit due later this year. It is
imperative, in this regard, that we resist the attempt of business to set a
creation agenda that centres around labour market "flexibility".

Finally, the bilateral discussed how, as the ANC's two leading partners, we
shall work to strengthen the ANC's election campaign in 1999.