The South African Communist Party (SACP) was founded on 30 July 1921 during a conference that was held in Cape Town from 30 July to 1 August 1921. The party was established mainly by left-wing white socialists and workers who had personally experienced the struggles of the European working class during the first two decades of the 20th century. After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia the class struggle in South Africa intensified. Initially, the new party was known as the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA).
In 1950 the CPSA was banned by the ruling National Party (NP) in terms of the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950. In 1953 the party was re-established and, as a result, it changed its name to the South African Communist Party. Until the SACP’s unbanning in 1990 it was forced to operate underground. The well-known Afrikaner struggle activist and revolutionary, advocate Bram Fischer (1908-1975), was one of the prominent members of the party.
Since its founding the CPSA/ SACP has endorsed socialism and dedicated itself to the transformation of South Africa’s political and economic landscape. Throughout its history the CPSA/ SACP operated in conjunction with trade unions and other political organisations, notably the African National Congress (ANC). Today the SACP is a partner in the so-called Tripartite Alliance of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the ANC. The SACP states in its constitution that it is ‘guided by those principles of Marxism-Leninism’ and the ‘ultimate aim of the SACP is to build a communist society in which all forms of exploitation of one person by another will end and in which all the products of human endeavour will be distributed according to need’.
Text: Dr Derek du Bruyn