The South African Communist Party (SACP), a partner of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in politics and government, has urged South Africans to rail against inequality, the Gupta family, and State capture in 2017.

In statement released by SACP national spokesman Alex Mashilo here Thursday, the party wished South Africans a Happy New Year but warned that the country’s success should not be measured by the number of billionaires it has, but rather by the improvement in the conditions of the masses.

Mashilo pointed out that in 2016 the world’s richest people had grown wealthier and that inequality had deepened globally and in South Africa.

“The Guptas have become the richest black billionaires in 2016 (which) shows the toxic role of corporate capture of the State, in addition to deepening exploitation of the workers and the poor both economically and politically.”

The Guptas are a South African business family of Indian origin who who own a wide array of businesses and are alleged to have exercised undue influence over the country’s top leaders, including influence over the appointment of members of the Cabinet.

Mashilo said that the struggle against the exploitation of workers needed to be intensified in 2017 so that the economy could be transformed. “It is also important that we fight to jealously guard our democratic national sovereignty, so that our country is not sold to the highest bidder, and so that we are able to pursue our own economic policies.”

He said that in 2017 there needed to be a strengthening of the relationship between the SACP and its partners in the alliance which also includes the ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African National Civics Organization.

In 2016 the SACP found itself at odds with the ANC, especially in KwaZulu-Natal where there was dissatisfaction over the way candidates were nominated for the Aug 3 local government elections, the election of Zandile Gumede as head of the ANC’s eThekwini Regional chairperson, as well as the removal of Senzo Mchunu as premier of KwaZulu-Natal.

The party is expected to hold its National Policy Conference in June when several policy decisions would come up for debate.

“The most immediate challenge is to build hope amongst our people, that indeed a better South Africa that creates jobs and sustainable livelihoods is indeed possible. There is no better way to achieve this hope, other than to build and strengthen our Alliance and other progressive mass organizations with the working class in a firm leading position,” said Mashilo.

Mashilo also took aim at South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), by condemning the recent visit of Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga’s to Taiwan, saying that by doing so he had interfered in China’s internal affairs because he had violated South Africa’s “one China” policy.