This is a lightly edited transcription of a talk given by Prof. Lucien van der Walt on a panel on the eve of the 2019 national elections in South Africa: the International Labour Research and Information Group (ILRIG)/ Workers World Media Productions (WWMP) Public Forum, Isivivana Centre, Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa 25 April.
Twenty-five years into democracy the black working class majority in South Africa has not experienced any meaningful improvements in its conditions. The apartheid legacy of unequal education, healthcare and housing and the super-exploitation of black workers continues under the ANC and is perpetuated by the neoliberal policies it has imposed.
The only force capable of changing this situation is the working class locally and internationally. Yet to do so, struggles need to come together, new forms of organisation appropriate to the context are needed; and they need both to be infused with a revolutionary progressive politics and to learn from the mistakes of the past.
Outside the ANC alliance, there have indeed been many efforts to unite struggles – but these have largely failed to resonate with the working class in struggle and form the basis of a new movement. Nowhere is this more evident than with the newly-formed Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) – which got less than 25 000 votes in the national elections, despite the fact that the union that conceived it, Numsa, claims nearly 400 000 members.
The question of state government elections and running a Workers or Socialist political party continues to be raised in the working class movement and the Left globally. As we may know, there was excitement about the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party in Britain, left political parties in certain parts of Europe and Latin America and, more recently, certain shifts to more centrist positions in the United States amongst a section of the Democratic Party calling themselves “Democratic Socialists”. In South Africa, many workers and some activists seem cautiously optimistic by NUMSA’s formation of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party that will seek to participate in the 2019 general elections.
by Warren McGregor (TAAC, ZACF)
Published in “Tokologo: Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective”, numbers 5/6, November 2015
Many in the working class hope the 2016 local government elections will prove a turning point. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) won the 2014 elections easily, but its grip is weakening. The ANC-allied Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) has split, the radical metal union NUMSA expelled. The ANC could even lose control of at least one of giant “metro” municipality in 2016, possibly greater Johannesburg or Nelson Mandela Bay – probably to the moderate Democratic Alliance (DA), not the ANC breakaway, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
by Shawn Hattingh & Jonathan Payn
There has been much hype, amongst the media and sections of the public, in the run up to this year’s provincial and national elections in South Africa and, for some, the arrival of new parties to the electoral arena has renewed their faith in the possibility of an electoral solution to the myriad of problems facing South Africa. Politicians from across all parties have been using this hype and a seemingly renewed faith in the ballot box to their advantage.
The question, therefore, is: can equality, socialism, national liberation or ‘economic freedom’ – or even a respite from state violence – for a majority be brought about through parties and activists entering into the state or through voting for parties that promise not to use the state for violent or oppressive means; or will this only lead to a dead-end for the working class yet again?