Brian Sokutu
Senior Print Journalist
3 minute read
13 Jul 2022
7:38 pm

Blade Nzimande slams ‘capitalist greed’, wants more industrialisation

Brian Sokutu

SACP secretary general Nzimande said capitalists are to blame for the collapse of Eskom

SACP first deputy secretary Solly Mapaila (left) and outgoing SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande before the start of the party’s 15th national congress at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg on Wednesday, 13 July 2022. Picture: Brian Sokutu

As part of an aggressive strategy to address unemployment – by enhancing productive forces and industrialisation – the SA Communist Party (SACP) wants to see huge investment in manufacturing industries and infrastructure.

This, through prescribed assets, could see trillions in retirement and pension funds being ploughed in projects that could inject growth in the South African economy, according to outgoing SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande – part of his tabling on Wednesday of the party’s 14th congress central committee political report to the 15th national congress being held in Boksburg.

Industrialisation

Addressing a media briefing to mark the start of the gathering, attended by local and international delegates, Nzimande said: “We are saying in the political report that in 1994, at the time of SA’s political transition to democracy, the financial sector accounted for 6% of the economy.

“Today it is 25% and industrialisation has moved in the opposite direction of the economy.

“What kind of an economy is that in a developing country, with no productive forces and industrialisation.

“Are we surprised there is high unemployment?

“Take the R8 trillion in workers’ retirements and pensions funds [and] invest that in infrastructure and the manufacturing industry, something that will create jobs.

“The PIC (Public Investment Corporation) has R3 trillion, but who is benefitting from that

“It is the middle managers in the financial sector – supporting projects that are nowhere near creating jobs in this country.

“Take R1 trillion and invest it in the productive economy – hence we want prescribed assets that will see money in the private sector being invested for economic growth.”

Eskom

Turning to the Eskom crisis, Nzimande said when he was elected SACP secretary general in 1998, a government report recommended that the power utility be recapitalised to avert future load shedding and a collapse of the state-owned enterprise.

“Capitalists at the time pushed for the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, which included Eskom.

“Instead of putting money into Eskom, we adopted a capitalist economic programme called GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution).

“Money was not put into Eskom because capitalists had hoped to feed on the carcass of Eskom.

“Today they are blaming government and washing their hands.

“Because capitalists wanted Eskom to be privatised as far back as 1998, that is the reason why we did not invest in the power utility.

“We are in this state because of capitalist greed,” said Nzimande.

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Nzimande – the longest-serving SACP general secretary – is stepping down and expected to be replaced over the weekend by the party’s first deputy secretary general Solly Mapaila. He said he expects the congress “to be robust, but be a united gathering of branches”.

“The newly-proposed programme to be adopted by congress, is going to be about the South African struggle for socialism, with the thrust being to build a powerful SA socialist movement – made up of the workers and the poor.

“We are holding this congress in what is possibly one of the most difficult periods of South Africa’s democracy since 1994.

“The congress has a huge responsibility to map the way forward.

“We don’t only want to analyse at this congress, but to come up with a concrete programme on how to change the situation for the better – unapologetic about building socialism in SA to meeting the needs of the overwhelming population of our people,” Nzimande said.

Asked about taking flak for ANC government weaknesses in which some deployed SACP leaders serve, Nzimande said: “If we are in the Tripartite Alliance with the ANC, we are part of government and will take full responsibility.

“But we are not going to take responsibility for the Guptas who stole our wealth. The sooner they return to South Africa, the better.”

brians@citizen.co.za