The following is a statement by the South African Communist Party (SACP) on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC):

Thousands of South African Communists – all of us ANC activists – salute and take great pride in the ANC’s 90th anniversary. Over many decades, generations of communists in South Africa, along with many other progressives, patriots and democrats, have helped to build and take forward the ANC.

The ANC was inaugurated on Jan. 8, 1912. It was a response to the ultimate defeat of centuries of armed resistance to colonial dispossession by the tribal societies of southern Africa.

It was also a response to the racially exclusive 1910 Union of South Africa settlement. The ANC launched a new political project that was, at once, about unifying African people across ethnic divides, and about winning full citizenship rights for all who live in South Africa.

Over decades, down to the present, the ANC has spearheaded a remarkable political program, expressing the aspirations and hegemony of the African majority in our country, and yet always espousing a broader non-racialism and inclusiveness at the same time. Since the democratic breakthrough of 1994, the ANC has faced the complex challenge of being a ruling party, assuming full and fearless responsibility for governing, while still remaining a broad-based national liberation movement.

We know, from many examples around the world, that this is not a simple task. In many post-independence, developing societies, serious fault-lines develop between a governing stratum and popular mass forces.

In the SACP and in the broader ANC-led alliance, we are convinced that this kind of development is neither irreversible nor inevitable. Indeed, the great historical task of the ANC, going into the next decades, is precisely to foster and deepen the unity between democratic government and the popular masses.

Building on its overwhelming support and the deep loyalty it enjoys amongst millions of South Africans, the ANC is the only force in our society capable of carrying forward this great historic mission – without which there will be no enduring democracy, no sustainable economic growth and social development in our country.

The key to meeting this challenge is the capacity of the ANC to foster the unity of its diverse constituencies, and in particular the unity of the working class and the most marginalized and downtrodden, the urban and rural poor. The policies and programs of action of the ANC must continue to be based on this bedrock. It is on this basis that the ANC will continue to lead the tripartite alliance.

Related to this, and critical factors in the ANC’s remarkable durability and ongoing dynamism, are its traditions of mass-rootedness and of resolving difficulties and differences through open debate.

The SACP is acutely aware that the ANC also has an important role to play beyond the borders of South Africa. Indeed we are heartened by the fact that the ANC has been playing an important role in working together with other progressive forces on the African continent, the developing world and the entire globe.

It is a task that needs to be accelerated in the light of deepening global imperialism, the simultaneous integration and marginalization of the African continent in the current world order, and the widening gap between rich and poor countries.

On the occasion of this 90th anniversary, the SACP commits itself, once more, to strengthening our alliance with the ANC, and to strengthening the ANC itself.

As South African communists we remain convinced that a strong, effective, mass-based and democratic ANC is the critical condition for the progressive elimination of the terrible legacy of racial oppression in our society. It is also the critical condition for the progressive and eventual elimination of all class exploitation and gender inequalities.