[DEBATE] : Tony Ehrenreich, a renegade of the new epoch, SACP, W Cape
dominic.tweedie at gmail.com
Tue Feb 12 10:13:21 GMT 2008
South African Communist Party, Western Cape
4th Floor, Fountain Place, No 5 Heerengracht Street, Off Adderley
Street, Cape Town, 8001
28 January 2008
TONY EHRENREICH: A RENEGADE OF THE NEW EPOCH
Response of the SACP to the letter from Tony Ehrenreich to the SACP
Dated the 22nd of January 2008
1.1. The Provincial Working Committee (PWC) of the South African
Communist Party (SACP) in the Western Cape held its normal meeting on
Thursday, 24 January 2008, to assess the political situation of the
previous year and plan for the coming year.
1.2. The PWC also spent an enormous amount of time discussing the
state of the tripartite alliance in the province, guided by the
document which was adopted by the SACP in the Western Cape Provincial
Congress which took place in March 2007.
1.3. The SACP in the Province also met while saddened by the passing
away of Comrade John Gomomo, the former President of Cosatu who will
be buried in Uitenhage on 9 February 2008.
1.4. As the SACP we held comrade John Gomomo in high esteem and value
the contribution that Cosatu and its affiliates (under his leadership)
has made and continue to make in SACP campaigns nationally and
provincially. This includes the SACP's provincial 2007 Red October
programme which focused on free and quality health care services,
which the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu)
and Denosa in the province has partnered with the SACP to make sure
that the campaign was a success.
1.5. We also met to discuss our preparations and readiness for the
long scheduled Joe Slovo Memorial Lecture, which took place on
Saturday, 26 January 2008, which was addressed by the SACP Deputy
General Secretary, comrade Jeremy Cronin.
1.6. The meeting also received a report from the Secretariat about a
letter that was sent to the COSATU affiliates and the SACP bearing the
subject: "Global Day of Action Saterday (sic) 26th January 2008 at
10H00", the contents of which we respond to hereunder.
1.7. The abovementioned letter, which bore the logo of Cosatu and the
name of comrade Tony Ehrenreich, was copied to the SACP General
Secretary and the SACP National Chairperson. The letter in question
makes a number of innuendos about the leadership of the SACP and
reduces the Party of the workers into a child that needs to be told
what to do and how to behave, like the sentence from the letter that
says, "Regarding the SACP, we will talk to them about moving it to a
date that suits the overall programme of Cosatu and all its
1.8. We wish to make it clear before responding to the letter, that
the SACP is a political party of the workers and the poor and that it
is not an ungovernable Cosatu affiliate as the tone of the letter
seeks to impress on its intended readers.
2. THE CONTENTS OF THE LETTER FROM COSATU
2.1. The letter that was sent to us (SACP) conveys the message that,
"the time for talking is past, it is the year for decisive action".
The letter continues and states that, "To this end we are asking all
unions including Numsa to reschedule there (sic) events to enable them
to participate in this Cosatu global day of action". In another
sentence the letter states that, "We will also request an urgent
meeting with the SACP to clear up any issues that there may be with
Cosatu as the time for maximum unity around a clear programme of
action compels us to act beyond personalities". The letter continues
and states that, "The alliance between the SACP and all the affiliates
through Cosatu on generic areas or programmes must be advanced at all
2.2. In the paragraph that follows the above, the letter brings to the
attention of the reader that, "There are also some concerns in the
developments in some of the unions [Nehawu] regarding the role played
by some SACP office bearers, that requires bilateral discussions with
2.3. In its conclusion the letter boldly states that, "we will be
looking forward to building the team that is Cosatu this year and all
of your best efforts are required to make it a success".
2.4. In short, these are some of the issues contained in the letter
sent to the SACP and Cosatu affiliates in the Western Cape, copied to
the General Secretary of the SACP and the National Chairperson.
2.5. A once-off reading of the letter will not shock a reader who is
not well versed with what the author is trying to do with the letter.
But those who are aware of the issues that are taking place in the
SACP, Numsa, Nehawu and indeed Cosatu in the Western Cape, will agree
that the letter displays the extent to which the author is averse to
and launch salvoes against the SACP in the Province, the Provincial
Chairperson of the SACP who is also the Provincial Secretary of Numsa
and the Deputy Provincial Secretary of the SACP who is also a NEHAWU
leader at Parliament. In its general tone, the letter attacks the
leadership of the SACP in the Western Cape in its entirety, not
sparing any leader. It is thus, not surprising that the letter makes
mention of the word "personalities" (refer to paragraph 2.1. above) to
express his disgust for the SACP leaders.
3. MODUS OPERANDI OF AN UNACCOUNTABLE LEADER
3.1. On 19 July 2003, the Office Bearers of COSATU in the Western Cape
(under the leadership of comrade Tony Ehrenreich) presented a report
which argued that, "the relations with the SACP have been strained but
is improving since the SACP headquarters had intervened in the
differences on policy, there have been improvements". The report
continued and stated that, "it was agreed that whilst there are
difficulties in the alliance it is clear that these are born out of
the fact that our alliance partners refuse to recognize the standing
and role that Cosatu has in the alliance historically".
3.2. In a report of Nehawu written in July 2006 entitled; "Nehawu
Preparations Report for the Cosatu Provincial Congress: 29 July 2006"
some startling observations are made. The report, which was prepared
for Nehawu delegates to the Cosatu Provincial Congress, states that;
"the overall impression of the Secretariat report is that it is not
structured as a Secretariat report: some sections are written in an
individualistic style in that it makes reference to "I".
3.3. This report of Nehawu that was given to Nehawu delegates to the
Cosatu Provincial Congress, which took place on 29 July 2006 continued
and argued that, in the Cosatu report (which was presented to congress
by comrade Tony Ehrenreich) "there is not enough reference to national
Cosatu work programmes".
3.4. In the meeting of the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of
Nehawu, as noted in the report, which took place on 2-3 June 2006, the
PEC of Nehawu made among others, one major pronouncement: "that Nehawu
would support the current incumbent as Secretary (referring to comrade
Tony Ehrenreich) but would raise the problems they have with his style
and methods as he often acts outside mandates and struggles with being
held accountable". This pronouncement was, by and large, based on the
decision of the Nehawu National Office Bearers which appealed for the
maintenance of the status quo.
3.5. We are highlighting the 2003 report to the Cosatu provincial
congress and the positions of other affiliates regarding the
Provincial Secretary of Cosatu, just to indicate that the problem that
Cosatu has with the SACP is not a new thing, but something that has
been going on for a while. In actuality, it will be wrong to say that
Cosatu is having a problem with the SACP, when it is Mr Tony
Ehrenreich who as an individual set himself a task to attack the SACP
on every platform, opportunity and space he finds.
3.6. The SACP, after receiving the letter from Cosatu, it communicated
with the Cosatu Provincial Chairperson (comrade Monroe Mkhalipi),
Cosatu Deputy Provincial Chairperson (comrade Jan Kotze) and Cosatu
Provincial Treasurer (comrade Christine Olivier) to establish whether
Tony's letter represents the view of POB's as a collective. We were
astonished but not surprised that the Cosatu (worker) POB's all
distanced themselves from the contents of the letter, expressing shock
at its contents. Actually, they did not know about the existence of
3.7. In the view of the SACP, it is clear that the letter was written
by comrade Tony Ehrenreich and the views and contents are not those of
Cosatu, but of an individual. The letter to the SACP reaffirms the
concern of the PEC of Nehawu which took place on 2-3 June 2006 about
the problem of comrade Tony Ehrenreich. His individualistic style
using "I" is also conspicuous in the letter to the SACP in which, for
example he states that; "Well, I suppose by now everybody is….". This
clearly demonstrates that he is writing as an individual, as noted by
the Nehawu PEC and its report, but he hides behind Cosatu to attack
the SACP and its leaders who are part of the leadership in some of the
4. RESPONSE TO THE CONTENT OF THE LETTER BY THE RENEGADE, TONY EHRENREICH
4.1. In the above paragraphs we have spent ample time laying the basis
for our response (which follows hereunder) to the letter written to us
by Tony Ehrenreich who displayed a high level of ill discipline by
attacking the SACP.
4.2. In 1906 the late leader of the Soviet Union, comrade Lenin said
that "discipline is the unity of action, freedom of discussion and
criticism". He was trying to warn us from confusing words and deeds
when we are engaged in a fierce ideological battle such as we are in
the current epoch.
4.3. Some eleven years later after having elaborated on discipline in
organisation, Lenin made a very scientific observation, which helps us
to understand the actions of Tony Ehrenreich. He said that, "Every
revolution, if it is a real revolution, amounts to a class shift.
Therefore, the best way of enlightening the people and of fighting
those who deceive the people by invoking the revolution, is to analyse
the class shift that has taken or is taking place in the present
4.4. It is for this reason that, after analysing the revisionism of
Tony Ehrenreich, who has consistently invoked the revolution while
attacking the SACP and its leaders, we drew a conclusion that he has
completely shifted beyond the point of no return, and therefore we
have to defend the SACP from his consistent attack on the Party.
4.5. Without more ado let us begin our response with the resolution of
the Cosatu National congress.
4.6. The resolution of Cosatu's 8th National Congress states that,
"Cosatu should continue its endeavours to build the SACP as a Party of
workers and encourage workers to join the SACP and provide financial
support". Obviously, the renegade Tony Ehrenreich is not implementing
this resolution. In any way, how can Tony lead in the implementation
of the resolution, encouraging people to join the SACP when he himself
is not an SACP member.
4.7. The Cosatu's 8th National Congress resolution continues and
states that, "Cosatu should continue working closely with the Party so
that we continue supporting each other's main campaigns in a manner
that deepens the relationship between the two organizations". At no
stage did Tony Ehrenreich bother to inform the SACP provincial
leadership of the Cosatu CEC (19-21 November 2007) decision to embark
on the Global Day of Action on 26 January 2008 "…to coincide with the
World Economic Summit in Davos as well as the stalled World Trade
Organisation talks on trade…".
4.8. This is what the more than a million workers that belong to
Cosatu have resolved in their own congress. Instead of implementing
the resolution as prescribed by the Cosatu 8th National Congress, the
renegade Tony has made it part of his programme in the political stock
exchange of issues to make sure that Cosatu operates as many miles
away from the SACP as possible. The SACP in the province has been
consistently sidelined from Cosatu Job Losses campaign because Tony's
friends in the fringe "left coalition" (read: ultra left) had to be
the strategic partner in the Cosatu Job Losses campaign.
4.9. The relationship between the SACP and Cosatu is not an accident
of history, but emerged during the course of struggles and it is based
on a well worked out programme. The SACP is a revolutionary vanguard
of the workers which is in alliance with a liberation movement and a
progressive labour federation, ie; Cosatu.
4.10. The fact that some leaders of Cosatu, including Tony Ehrenreich
and some two or three leaders of Cosatu affiliates, who are not
members of the SACP or the African National Congress (ANC), ferment a
crisis in the alliance or attack the SACP is not an unexpected action
from ill discipline people.
4.11. The SACP in the Western Cape recognises the right of Mr Tony
Ehrenreich not to be a member of the SACP. This includes even the
other leaders of some of the Cosatu affiliates who are not SACP or ANC
members. However, we have a problem when these non-SACP and non-ANC
members like comrade Tony, transpose an anti-alliance tendency into
the federation, whose sole purpose is to get workers as far away from
the SACP and the ANC as possible. To us, this is a right wing tendency
disguised as ultra-leftism which has been and is seeking to build a
huge nest in the provincial Cosatu structures.
4.12. This right wing tendency of the non-SACP and anti-ANC persons in
Cosatu, trying to get workers away from the SACP has recently been
demonstrated by the invitation of the right-wing Democratic Alliance
(DA) leader Helen Zille by Tony to address a Cosatu shop-steward
council, a gathering of leaders of Cosatu in the province. This was a
clear demonstration that, Tony has not only transposed a right wing
tendency into Cosatu, but that he wants to get as many workers away
from the SACP and the ANC and deliver them to the DA sooner than we
4.13. Now, when SACP leaders in Numsa and Nehawu challenge him and his
cohort from taking workers away from the SACP, acting against the
resolution of the Cosatu's 8th National Congress, he personalises the
federation and attacks these leaders and the SACP. Comrade Tony has
decided to collaborate with some of the invisible elements in the
Cosatu affiliates to purge and attack SACP leaders in Cosatu
affiliates. Indeed the revolution is on trial, and it seems comrade
Tony wants to act as a judge during this trial to execute the SACP and
its leaders. The SACP can only hope that he subjects its leaders to a
fair and honest trial, for being anti-DA and anti-right-wing
tendencies in Cosatu.
4.14. This situation and his behaviour confirm exactly what comrade
Lenin sought to explain in 1900 when he wrote that, "Isolated from
social democracy (Socialism), the labour movement becomes petty and
inevitably becomes bourgeois in conducting only the economic struggle,
the working class loses its political independence, it becomes the
tail of other parties and runs counter to great slogan: 'The
emancipation of the workers must be the task of the workers
themselves'. This is the danger that the renegade Tony Ehrenreich has
4.15. We need to indicate that, the word social democracy as used in
the above quotation, is not social democracy as we understand it
today, but simply refer to a progressive revolutionary ideology;
"socialism". Thus, we can underline the point that the SACP is not
only a Party of action, but a party that also provides the workers
with a theoretical approach and direct the anger of the workers
towards the right direction. It is a vanguard Party which is based on
a proven scientific theory that is advanced than any of the Parties
found in our society.
5.1. The SACP will continue to defend itself in the midst of the
right-wing tendency to try and move away workers from SACP aligned
leaders who are in Cosatu, and bring Cosatu closer to the DA and
affiliates leaders who are buying into the project of distancing the
workers from the SACP.
5.2. It is clear that we are dealing with a renegade who is not only
ignorant about how the SACP as a vanguard party operates, but also a
renegade who does not understand the traditions and operations of our
alliance. We have been patiently trying to help Tony, to grasp what is
the relationship between the three alliance partners and how they
relate to each other. However, it seems as if we are fighting a
loosing battle because his political orientation seemed to be haunting
5.3. It also seems that Tony does not understand how to relate with a
PEC member of the SACP, who happens to be a Nehawu shop-steward.
Comrade Tony should at least have learned by now that any member or
leader of the SACP can join any union of his/her choice without
necessarily being a chairperson or secretary or holding any office,
but as an individual worker. This worker can, and we encourage them to
take part and be elected by their unions as individuals to be
shop-stewards or a chairperson and so forth.
5.4. The tendency of Tony, of identifying SACP members and leaders in
the affiliates, singling them out amongst the other members is purging
of the worst kind.
5.5. Before we conclude, we need to state two obvious things which are
now known by Cosatu leaders; (a) We have written many letters to
Cosatu seeking to have bilaterals with the federation in the province,
but all our letters could not help in securing an audience with Cosatu
or Tony, and (b) Tony never comes to address SACP events, except other
Provincial Office Bearers of Cosatu. He has failed to learn from
national leaders of Cosatu, who have addressed and attended SACP
meetings. The good example is the SACP fundraising event which took
place at Khayelitsha late last year (2007), which was addressed by the
acting President of Cosatu comrade Sdumo Dlamini, who also expressed
his disappointment at the non-attendance of comrade Tony, something
the SACP is painfully confronted with on a regular basis.
5.6. In the balance sheet of his behavior, it has become apparent to
us that comrade Ehrenreich has exhausted the last remaining respect
for others and is on an overdraft of discipline. The behaviour of
comrade Tony is no different to the one of comrade Leon Trotsky who
fermented a crisis in the Soviet Union, creating factions and fighting
the leadership under the guise of defending the revolution.
5.7. But as for us, it is aluta continua until we achieve a socialist
South Africa in which there will be no exploitation of one person by
another. Socialism will remain our main agenda item in our address to
Cosatu affiliates and all meetings of alliance structures.
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