PLATFORM OF THE LEFT BLOC IN THE ZUMA MUST GO CAMPAIGN!

KC JOURNAL NO 36 Special Edition April/May 2017

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In this article Ahmed Jooma and Shaheen Khan argue for the need for working class intervention in the current campaign for Zuma to fall, and that the working class must form a left bloc that will be part of the campaign that includes all the forces calling for Zuma’s downfall.

All in all, the present period is pleasant. History is evidently bracing itself to take again a new start, and the signs of decomposition everywhere are delightful for every mind not bent upon the conservation of things as they are.” (Marx to Lassalle, 31st May 1858)

‘State Capture’ by the Zuma faction of the ANC

  1. The 1994 political settlement ensured that White Monopoly Capital and the White population in general preserved their grip on the economy through the property clauses in the constitution which at the same time legitimized the process of colonial dispossession. But for some exceptional cases (Ramaphosa/Sexwale etc) the historic patterns of ownership are changing at a snail pace, much to the frustration of the aspirant black capitalist and middle classes. The space for BEE is constrained further by the current world recession that has exacerbated the structural impediments to the aspirations of the black middle class.

The ‘Developmental State’ agenda to realise the aims of the National Democratic Revolution, is a failure. It has not addressed the wealth disparities between the classes and segments of the population. The living standard of the black working class and poor has not changed but deteriorated, and they continue to bear the brunt of the burden of the structural crises of capitalism: high unemployment, growing poverty and big income disparities. The overwhelming majority of black people find themselves in a cycle of despair. This is also true for the middle classes whose income is being eaten away by high prices and a growing debt. There is a growing anger and rejection of the system and those who tolerate things do so because they benefit or in anticipation of benefiting.

  1. South African neo-liberalism has laid the foundation for the development of a parasitic faction of black capital to emerge which utilizes the organs of government to leverage access to state resources, often on a corrupt basis. The most organised section of this black bourgeoisie is the ‘Zupta’ faction which uses their leverage on state resources to advance their accumulation of wealth. Since coming to power, President Zuma has ensured that all the key appointees in government, particularly in the security apparatus are his close political associates and friends and many are from his home province giving this security apparatus a distinct Zulu ethnic flavour. He has created elements of a shadow Bonapartist security state that facilitates the growth of this kleptocratic faction. The existence of the Bonapartist state facilitates the predatory relationship and has led the Gupta’s to believe that they can exercise political appointments to suit their business interests undermining all levels of political etiquette and ruling party processes, as they wish. The appointment of Mosebenzi Zwane to the portfolio of Minister of Minerals and Energy, the removal of two Finance Ministers and one deputy Minister and the arbitrary nature of the cabinet reshuffle are a reflection of the power they wield.
  2. The removal of Pravin Gordhan (PG) as finance minister and the cabinet reshuffle announced by Zuma was an audacious factional manoeuvre, necessary to prepare the ground for a brazen looting of the state. This would facilitate the growth of the black bourgeois, particularly the Gupta empire which could provide the necessary funding for the future program of a Zupta dominated ANC. The first order of business no doubt would be the funding of the elective conference of the ANC where the Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma is scheduled to win.
  3. All developments to date have exposed the Zuma faction’s slogan of “radical economic transformation” for what it is: the creation of an enabling institutional and policy environment for the self-enrichment of Zuma’s family, friends and cronies in the black elite. That is what lies behind the takeover of Treasury. The way has now been cleared for, in the words of the SACP second deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, “parasites and vultures to encircle it and loot it completely.” Zuma and his faction have dressed up their corruption and looting in radical clothing, portraying their factional opponents as lackeys of white monopoly capital to which they are allegedly opposed. Their project is being presented as the “second phase of the transition of the National Democratic Revolution.” Yet new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s first statement was to assure the rating agencies that he remained as committed as PG to the austerity policies his predecessor was implementing to appease them at the expense of the working class.[1]
  4. The reaction of the markets to these developments is already being felt in the 8% decline in the value of the Rand. The downgrade of the country’s sovereign credit rating was predictable and inevitable. That Zuma has taken this action in spite of a ratings downgrade threat, confirms not only his economic ignorance, but also his insolent indifference towards the consequences of his actions for the middle and working classes. The Standard & Poor’s and Fitch downgrade, which could now be followed by Moody’s as well, will mean that the cost of borrowing by government will skyrocket. Already government bond yields have been forced up 9.2% — junk territory – attracting short-term investment to take advantage of the high rate by international standards, it burdens the country with a higher interest debt bill. Government debt   is at levels higher than in the wake of the PW Botha’s Rubicon speech in 1985. The cost of servicing this debt is already the fastest rising item on the expenditure side of the budget. Not only will this require even further cuts in social spending, but, with a fall in the value of the Rand, lead to spiralling inflation, as the cost of fuel, transport and food go through the roof. To the vicious circle of a declining Rand, capital flight and raising inflation, the Reserve Bank whose primary mandate (as a key institution in the implementation of the ANC government’s neo-liberal capitalist policies) is to keep inflation under control (to achieve price stability), will be to raise interest rates. It is a policy to make the working class pay the price for a crisis created by the capitalists themselves, their number increased by the middle class that will be dragged into their ranks.[2]
  5. The current level of interest rates – the servicing of which consumes 76% of annual household income – will mean hundreds of thousands if not millions more will swell the ranks of the 19 million indebted. House, car and furniture repossessions will escalate alongside personal and small business bankruptcies. Even from a capitalist standpoint, the actions of the Zuma administration are reckless in the extreme. The looting of Eskom by the Zuptas has resulted in huge increases in the price of electricity and strangled economic growth. At 0.3%, economic growth in 2016 was the lowest since 2009. The 2017 budget’s strategic aim is to reduce the budget deficit to 2.4%. Its calculations are predicated on economic growth reaching 2%. With economic growth having contracted in the last quarter of 2016 to 0.3%, there is now a distinct possibility of a recession. The recession that followed the 2008 world economic crisis led to the loss of a million jobs. That recession came against the background of an average growth rate of 4.3% over the previous five years. Growth rates since 2009 have averaged less than 2%.  As the massive retrenchments in the mining, metal, engineering and now the poultry industry indicate, potentially millions more will be thrown onto the scrapheap of unemployment and poverty.[3]
  6. Zuma’s actions amount to a declaration of war, not only on wider society but on other factions within the ANC. The primary consideration behind this reshuffle is the need to strengthen his factional grip over the ANC, to bolster his support amongst the parasitic black elite whose mouths are watering at the prospects of riches beyond their wildest dreams; riches that will completely insulate them from the disaster that awaits the masses in whose name they claim to be acting. The consolidation of Zuma’s factional grip over the ANC is intended to guarantee that he is succeeded as president, whether after the ANC’s elective conference in December, or after the general elections in 2019, by someone, preferably his ex-wife and mother of four of his children, Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma from whom he expects an amnesty for the more than 700 corruption charges the courts have ruled must now be reinstated.[4]

Zuptas capture the state

  1. There is another dimension which comrades need to take account of: that the Zuma faction is the strongest faction in the ANC and Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma is going to win the elective conference in December. There is no chance whatsoever that the ‘butcher’ Cyril or any other candidate will win. The relation of forces in the ANC has shifted decisively in favour of the Zuma faction: Zuma has taken full control of all the ministries that count – Trade and Industry, Energy and primarily the Treasury. The entire economic sector is under their control which is perfect for patronage and gross looting. It is perfect for the funding of the Nkosazana campaign.                                   ii. Power relations within the party has swung decisively behind the Zuma faction as witnessed by their total disregard for the views of the Deputy President, the Treasurer General and the General Secretary who were not happy with the decision to dismiss the Finance Minister. In spite of the complaints by the Alliance partners, PG and his entourage were recalled, belittled and PG was removed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Iii. Cyril, Gwede and Mhkize who had complained publicly that they had not been consulted had to withdraw and apologise for going public with their complaint. This was not only humiliating but reveals that they are in a minority in both the NWC and NEC and would lose if they tried to wage a fight.                                                                                                                             iv. The SACP made noises about the removal of PG and threatened to resign en-mass which Zuma ignored. The SACP did not carry out the threat arguing that it may be better to stay in the Cabinet and fight from within. A more humiliating retreat one could not imagine. They knew that once they abdicate their position they would be out. They are weak politically, are a shadow of their previous strength and influence in the Alliance. Their support for Cyril does not translate into votes at the elective conference.                                                                                      v. COSATU is a shadow of its former self. The President of COSATU is a Zuma acolyte and was quick to water down the organizations call for Zuma to step down; the top leadership having met with Zuma now understands his reasons for removing Pravin, and will be arranging a meeting of their NEC with Zuma. COSATU is at best divided over its support for Cyril at the elective conference.                                                                                     vi. The Veterans of the ANC have no real power and are treated with disdain by the leadership. Their support for Cyril does not mean much.                                                                                     vii. The ANCYL /WL /MKMVA are fully behind Zuma and an Nkosazana victory. These are not merely political formations but constitute organized semi-military neo-fascist forces on the ground.                                               viii. The Premier League has been organizing for the elective congress for the past two years. They have an overwhelming control of the North-West, Free State and Mphumulanga provinces and most of KwaZulu-Natal which is Zuma’s home territory. The only province to have come out openly for Cyril is Gauteng, while the rest of the provinces are split.                                                     ix. Cyril has just begun his campaign while the Zuma cabal has been at it for more than two years. With the anti-Zuma sentiment in the country so strong, ANC people have become very defensive. This strengthens the Zuma faction.                                                                                                                   x.   ANC people are guided not by principle but by the politics of the stomach. With all signs pointing to a Zuma faction victory many of those in the middle will throw their weight behind the stronger faction. Even sympathizers of Cyril will be careful not to be too vocal as they endanger their positions in government and the party.                                                                                xi. Motlanthe was thoroughly defeated at Mangaung. His faction was out-thought, out-organised and out-gunned. Zuma who was head of intelligence at MK is a master strategist and makes a mockery of those in the party who have opposed him.                                                                                           xii. The balance of forces is firmly in Nkosazana’s favour and the Zuma faction is headed for a resounding victory at the December elective conference.

What this means is that the fight against the Zuma faction is really a fight against the ANC government which is the executive arm of the bourgeois state managing capitalism on behalf of Capital!

 

  1. Oupa Lehulere in his paper ‘The Corruption of a Dream’ outlines the central role the Gupta’s have played in emboldening the Zuma faction and providing key elements that would otherwise have been lacking in the Zuma bloc. The Guptas have financial resources which allows them to ‘take on’ big capital. They are a highly organised group with tremendous skills which they have applied effectively to make them ‘producers’ rather than ‘consumers’. They have made inroads into the circuits of wealth that run between the state and large capital and they plan to break into the heart of the circuits that run within the capitalist class itself. An important project of the Guptas is to have their own banking arm (the purchase of the Habib Bank is a critical part of their plan), which will place them on par with the biggest capitalists in the country as they will now have the capacity to extract wealth from the affluent middle classes and issue loans on a significant scale.[5]
  1. At the same time, the Zuma government is the weakest link in the chain of the capitalist system. The Zuma government is a government submerged in crisis:
  • a crisis of the economic system which finds expression in high levels of unemployment, escalating and skyrocketing prices and a zero-growth path which the economy is struggling to get out of.
  • a social crisis of a society where different class interests have come to the surface and are finding expression in social strife and general insecurity and a sense of unhappiness which pervades society.
  • a deep political crisis of legitimacy tied up with the allegations of state capture and the looting of the public purse. For the first time since the early 1990’s do we witness thousands of people on the streets protesting against government policy and the ruling party.
  1. What the Zuma government faces is no longer merely an ‘objective’ crisis of the economic system but a crisis of legitimacy which makes it the weakest link in the capitalist chain. This is important as it means we are headed for choppy waters and we could be witnessing the opening salvo of an Arab Spring like revolt. This could result in a revolutionary or counter-revolutionary situation developing in the near future. In this context it is the duty of revolutionaries to posit a Revolutionary Program of Action. To stand on the sidelines is criminal!
  1. The Zuma capture of the state is a Rightwing Movement which will use any means to ensure that it can grow and prosper. Its main target will be the working class; an attempt to reverse it’s hard fought for labour relation victories and breaks its organisations in the form of militant trade unionism. The preparing of its ground forces in the form of the ANCYL and the MKMVA is the preparation of an incipient fascist movement ready to intervene if all other methods of control fail. They are not afraid to protect the ruling party by dint of force. While other classes fear a growing fascist movement as it threatens their ideal of democratic constitutionalism, the main danger is to the working class, as the historical role of fascism is to smash every last vestige of working class democracy, its policies and its organisations.[6] The failure to grasp this will result in a great historical defeat for the working class and open a new period where the fight for basic democratic rights may have to start all over again.
  1. The question that many activists/socialists raise is ‘after Zuma, who in the ANC to rule?’ It is really not a matter of choice between Zuma and an alternative ANC leader. It is clear that the Zuma faction will win at the elective conference in December. In between now and then, the Zuma faction will not let go of their control of the organisation as it would mean losing control of the state resources they are feeding off. The entire ANC understands that if Zuma is forced to abdicate his position, that would mean not only a split in the party but it’s fracturing into all its distinct pieces; essentially resulting in the total implosion of the ANC as a party. The legitimacy that the ANC provided to the post CODESA era is dissipating rapidly and potentially could open a revolutionary or counter-revolutionary situation in the country. With the masses, primarily the working class already entering the historical scene, the capitalists fear the unthinkable: the possibility of working class power. Those who see things in purely formal terms expect the handover of power within the ANC to be a formal constitutional matter. While the dog-fight will have taken place outside, the Zuma faction would prefer to win the elective conference through democratic processes. However if by some miracle they were to lose, they are organised to keep power through the mobilization of their forces on the ground, against opposition forces as well as from other factions in their own party.

The Left and State Capture

  1. While all the major leftwing groups in the country have actively entered the fray in one form or another, an alternate voice in this debate has come from NUMSA. Karl Cloete the Deputy General Secretary of NUMSA lays out their case: “which class forces stand to gain the most from this important site of struggle? It is also important to ask the question as to how to turn this period of crisis, into something that will benefit the working class. In as much as we must analyze the class forces at play, we must also use the crisis and popular feelings of ordinary people to concretely benefit the working class and build working class hegemony.” While NUMSA understands the need to defend democratic spaces and even the constitutional democracy this should be done from a class perspective. The danger they foresee is that “Not staying aloof from inter class struggles and alliances, the working class should however never aid an agenda that replaces one butcher with another. The world knows all too well what Cyril Ramaphosa’s role was in Marikana and the mass murder of mineworkers by the South African Police Services in 2012. The cold reality is that some of those who are calling for Zuma to fall are actively campaigning for Ramaphosa to become the next South African President. Ramaphosa has the backing of COSATU and the SACP, and perhaps even Save South Africa and others are also supportive of him…To organize the current popular feelings amongst ordinary people there needs to be the organization, an effective spear and shield for all those who want to build a socialist South Africa under working class leadership. Only then, will the real rot of the system be fought. This of course can be nothing short of building a Workers Party. NUMSA is not standing on the sidelines but is putting forward alternative actions and an alternative socialist agenda in the present.” [7]
  1. NUMSA has raised a most important question; the necessity for a class perspective in the struggle against ‘State Capture’ and the looting of the public purse.   This question reflects on the history of betrayal of the working class which has been characterized by the subordination of the working class to the interests of other classes. The People’s Front, a multi-class struggle in the name of National Liberation, ended up serving mainly the interests of the aspirant Black bourgeois and upper sections (politically connected) of the petty bourgeois, and primarily the interests of White Monopoly Capital. In this context the NUMSA warning about the dangers of siding with one wing of capital against another is a serious issue which revolutionaries must place at the heart of their analysis.
  1. While NUMSA’s insistence on a class perspective is correct it is mistaken in the conclusions it draws. Its position of “alternative actions and alternative socialist agenda” sounds very radical and even revolutionary, but in essence amounts to abstaining from the growing mass movement which is an immediate active response to the crisis by wide layers of society.

The looting of the public purse by the Zupta faction is primarily an attack on the living standards of the working class and poor, the erosion of the democratic gains the working class has made through the anti-Apartheid struggle and the immense suffering this crisis is going to heap on society as a whole. If the Zuptas succeed in carrying out their plan to rape the public purse the people who will feel the effects and suffer the most is the working class and poor. Up to 40 million South Africans are dependent on state grants. As the costs of borrowing increases so too will the ability to provide social services decline. This is a catastrophe waiting to unfold and warrants the independent political intervention of the working class to advance its own interests against ALL factions of capital.

NUMSA has labeled the growing mass movement around state capture as the ‘agenda of those who want to replace one set of butchers with another’, essentially the activity of an alternative bourgeois faction which the working class should not support. This movement has in spite of the endorsement by White Monopoly Capital drawn large black working class, unemployed and middle classes to it. NUMSA has through its abstention isolated itself from these masses. It has also through its myopic insistence on a ‘pure’ class struggle lost sight of the need for immediate action to stop the Zupta’s in their track. Instead of raising the proletarian program and fighting for this to become hegemonic in the anti-State Capture Movement, they have done nothing but comment on why they do not support the movement. NUMSA in spite of their best intentions has fallen victim to an ultra-left impulse.

  1. The Popular Front is the main strategic weapon of the bourgeoisie to tie the hands of the working class to the interests of the bosses. It represents a coalition of the proletariat and the imperialist bourgeoisie which imposes restrictions on the freedom of thought and action of the proletariat. All classes respond to an objective crisis and those affected by oppression enter the political arena. The anti-State Capture Movement has been organised largely by the Social Movements/NGO’s and parliamentary political parties. It has attracted various classes and ‘races’ to march against state capture; the white upper middle classes, the uppers sections of the black petty bourgeois, the middle classes in general, the working class and poor have all joined the protests. The class character of these movements is not as important to ordinary people as the fact that they are ready to take up the fight practically and immediately.
  1. The ever present danger of the working class and poor being led astray by White Monopoly Capital is real. Particularly where organizations of the proletariat remain outside the general movement and contemplate a pure proletarian response to the crisis. The reality of the situation is that the working class and its organizations have no choice but to enter the fray. This they cannot do apart and outside the general movement that has already been established. To attempt to organize a separate set of marches would not only be confusing to the general population but would and could be divisive.

 

  1. The Campaign to remove President Zuma is led by a potpourri of political parties, trade unions and, social movements which have all responded to this question in different ways. These responses are class based and reflect the class interests of the different forces:
  • The Democratic Alliance (DA) has a largely legalistic and constitutional approach to the question and is pursuing legal avenues to remove President Zuma, as they prepare for another impeachment motion in parliament. The DA is the racist Nationalist Party dressed up in democratic clothes and the main political representative of White Monopoly Capital. Their interest is to strengthen their chances on the electoral plane and in the Zuma faction they see the fast degeneration of the ANC and the possibility of them becoming the ruling party in 2019 through a coalition agreement. Despite this approach, they have embarked on independent and joint marches and protests in this campaign, hoping to broaden their appeal, especially among prospective black voters.
  • The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has shown their strength on the streets in dominating the Opposition Party protest at the Union buildings on the 12th The EFF is a middle class left-populist formation with its one eye on bourgeois wealth accumulation it has been excluded from and the other on its mass base which is largely the unemployed black youth. In the present context it will play a central and critical role in mobilizing mass support against the Zuma regime. While they have previously shown antipathy to joint activity exposing a deep seated sectarianism, they are participating in joint activities with other groups in the broader movement involved in this campaign.
  • The South African Communist Party (SACP) has lined up against Zuma for the first time calling for his removal from office. The SACP is a shadow of its previous self, having lost its ideological hold over the Alliance it now pretends to be taking up the fight against the Zuma kleptocrats. It has also called for the formation of a Popular Front against corruption. This amounts to support of a Ramaphosa campaign.
  • The Save SA campaign led by White liberals, pseudo-radicals and ex-ANC members have joined up with Civil Society in a coalition for the removal of Zuma as president of the country. While they comprise different political and class forces, they are essentially a bourgeois group fighting to save capitalist South Africa from the harm caused by the corrupt Zupta clan.   The leadership and most vocal elements are the middle classes. Many stalwarts of the ANC have become disillusioned with the state of the organisation and the levels of corruption that pervade its ranks. These people believe that they are carrying out a political duty to save the ANC through the removal of President Zuma. Many NGO’s and even some Social Movements are part of this movement and are fighting President Zuma because they believe in the reform of the system.
  • The Church leaders are often the moral critical barometer of a capitalism in crisis. They act to save the ‘moral authority’ of the nation (and the party). Their congregants are ‘paining’ and the country needs to reflect once again. They are definitely not interested in ‘regime’ change and propose the urgent need for a ‘land Codesa’ and ‘an economic Codesa’ to save the country
  1. The task of the proletariat and its leadership is to join the general movement. However in doing so it enters the fray under its own program and banner. It applies the policy of the united front which is ‘unity in action’, March separately, Strike together!
  1. The working class cannot deny anyone the right to struggle side by side with it against Fascism, Bonapartism, State Capture and all other forms of oppression and violence. The sole demand that class-conscious workers put to their actual potential allies is that they struggle in action. This means that every group of the population really participating in the struggle at a given stage and submitting to a common discipline must have equal rights to exert influence on the leadership of the movement. The leadership of the Movement/Front must be the direct and immediate reflection of the will of the struggling masses. 
  1. In participating in the movement the proletariat must insist on the formation of ‘Committees of Action’ in every locality. Every two hundred, five hundred or one thousand citizens adhering to the Movement in a given city, district, factory should elect representatives to the local committees of action from those who actually go into action. The leadership of the movement must reflect the will of the struggling masses and not those who sit on the sidelines. It is therefore not a question of the formal democratic representation of all and any masses but the revolutionary representation of the struggling The line of demarcation in the struggling masses is established during the struggle itself. When struggle is in question, every worker is worth ten bourgeois!
  1. The great historical task of the proletarian movement is to lead the petty bourgeois behind them in a revolutionary struggle for power. The Committees of Action are in harmony with this task as it will be a concrete experience where the working class leads them in action. The broad mobilization of forces in the anti-State Capture Movement, this popular front mish-mash, is but the opening salvo in the fight. As the movement grows the heavy battalions of the working class will force its way into the fight as happened in the UDF. The UDF was founded by the rather tame ‘Indian’ and ‘Coloured’ middle classes in 1983; as the struggle intensified and the organised working class and youth entered the fray, the character of the struggle and the UDF itself changed into a proletarian led near-insurrectionary movement which was defused and finally disbanded by the ANC to facilitate its historical betrayal. The working class must become the hegemonic force in the anti-State Capture Movement, putting forward its own perspectives, policies and program.

 

  1. The lesson of the historical fight for the United Front has been to March Separately, Strike Together. The failure of the German Communist Party to enter into a united front with Social Democracy led to the victory of Fascism. The failure to stop the Zupta train will lead to a developed Bonapartist state where all the democratic gains of the revolution will be lost to a quasi-dictatorship. To abstain from this fight is to agree that the Zupta’s bankrupt the public purse, for which the working class will carry the main burden and pay a very heavy price. The working class has no option but to fight, and is the only class with the power to stop them.
  1. For the working class it is either to fight or surrender its position as the best organised layer in society outside the state. This fight is not about whom we want in Zuma’s place, because we do not have the power to determine that at this stage. Instead it is our task to mobilize the organised strength of the working class and progressive forces so that whoever does replace Zuma will know there is a growing force of the working class that is ready to protect its most basic positions it won through hard class struggle. A defensive struggle can lead to an offensive position as the struggle unfolds. The shield turns to a spear!!
  1. The SAFTU resolutions have raised the question of an urgent meeting to discuss ‘What is to be done?’ We fully support this call and want to suggest that such a meeting must go beyond the trade union movement and include all leftwing formations in the country; all the small left groupings, the Economic Freedom Fighters, Social Movements and NGO’s, the student movement around #Feesmustfall and even the broader student movement, the #Outsourcingmustfall and Civic formations etc. The task would be to constitute a Left Bloc which would be a temporary unity of these different leftwing organizations/formations on a common platform. Such a platform could result in the formation of a real mass based united front drawing in the overwhelming masses of the working class and poor.
  1. The Left Bloc must strive to build strong ward based ‘Solidarity Action Committees’ (SAC’s) which are brought together in United Front Civic structures at local, regional, provincial and national levels. Our task is to build a strong National Civic Association. These organisations must have the following features:
  • maximum unity in action and struggle of the working class;
  • independent working class organisation;
  • grassroots membership, democracy and participation in the United Front and the struggles of the working class;
  • consistent, democratic, accountable and collective leadership within the United Front;
  • gender equality, women’s leadership and struggle against sexist behaviour in the United Front and society at large;
  • opposition to all forms of racism and xenophobia both within the United Front and in society at large;
  • rejection of discrimination based on sexual orientation both within the United Front and in society at large;
  • international solidarity in the struggle

Left Platform of demands

Oupa Lehulere has taken a rather pessimistic view of the possibilities of working class struggle based on the supposed ‘apathy’ of the South African working class. While he makes a valid point about how it came to pass that almost 40 million South Africans live off meagre grants handed out by the state, he does not touch on the resurgent working class movement as seen in the heroism of the Marikana mine workers and the resultant strike movement that followed, by the conscious political decision of NUMSA to break with the Tri-partite Alliance and embark on an independent path of working class struggle, the formation of a 700 000 strong militant and revolutionary trade union movement, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) and the student revolt which brought into question the character of the 1994 deal. The coming struggles against state capture will catapult the working class into the forefront of the battle; it will need the immediate articulation of a working class program of action, the organisation of an independent working class contingent in the struggle and the acceleration of the formation of a Mass Workers Party. The formation of a Left Bloc on a common program of action is a necessary step in this regard. A left platform must include:

  1. ZUMA MUST GO! A Fresh Mandate is Needed! Dissolve the National Assembly! Bring Forward General Elections!

The crisis of the ANC government is not only the crisis of the ANC as a political party but also is reflective of the crisis of the entire capitalist system. The weakest link in the capitalist chain is currently this very ANC government. For some it may seem that the solution is for the ANC to recall Zuma. However what they do not understand, which Gwede Mantashe fully appreciates, is that this will be the final demise of the ANC as an organization; it will split down the middle, fracture along urban/rural lines, ethnic/traditional lines and class lines. The big bourgeoisies while determined to rid themselves of the corrupt Zuma leadership fear the masses in motion. They prefer a legalistic and parliamentary approach through political pressure and influence while colluding to tighten the economic noose around the Zuptas.

The Left Bloc approach is a militant and radical approach which is rooted in the working class. It bases itself on mass mobilization and action. While agreeing that the movement be as broad and representative as possible (inclusive of other classes and social layers in society) the perspective is to take the struggle of the political/constitutional crisis beyond Zuma to the National Assembly, and this connects with the programme of the incomplete democratic revolution. The Left Bloc proposes to fight under the slogans: Zuma must Go! A Fresh Mandate is Needed! Dissolve the National Assembly! Bring Forward General Elections! While these are purely democratic demands they go to the heart of the political system as they call not for the replacement of one ‘thief by another’ but the immediate recall of all political representatives and the election of new representatives on a fresh mandate. The struggle around these slogans opens the road to more radical transitional and socialist demands like the demand for a ‘Workers Government’. The black bourgeoisie has shown itself incapable of settling the democratic question and it is only the working class that has an interest to do so. Organisationally this means that the trade unions must lead the battle so as to give a clear proletarian imprint to the mass movement. 

  1. Fight Against Neo-liberalism – Reverse the scourge of neoliberal policies!

The crisis ridden character of capitalism in the twenty first century compels the capitalist class, and behind them the Imperialist powers, to implement the most exploitative neoliberal policies with dire consequences for local government and service delivery. Our task is to take up the battle against all the neoliberal policies of the government at both the national and local level. The fight against the Zupta’s must expose their basic adherence to GEAR and neoliberalism. The shallow character of their ‘radical economic transformation’ must be exposed and challenged. We must counterpose a program of ‘revolutionary economic transformation’ to that of the radical variety. This program must include immediate, democratic and socialist demands.

  1. Fight for ‘Revolutionary Economic Transformation’

In the current political environment when Radical Economic Transformation captures the headlines the Left Bloc must put forward a comprehensive program of revolutionary demands for real economic transformation. Amongst these will be immediate and democratic demands like those advocated by Jeff Rudin recently:

  • Increased taxation of companies including a compulsory 10% tax on the several hundred billion rand that is hoarded by non-financial private companies;
  • Tax high incomes including a rolling back of a third of the cuts in the personal income tax since 2000 which could raise some R60-billion a year.
  • Tax Bond Sales including a small ¼ percent tax on bond sales, which should raise some R20-billion a year.
  • Close Tax Haven Loopholes by inter alia requiring full public disclosure of the finances of all the daughter companies of corporations in South Africa; announcing the end to corporate secrecy and “The Right 2 Know”; requiring that the audited financial reports of entities in tax havens that receive regular payments from a daughter company in SA be handed in to the authorities by the mother company that owns them both. [8]
  • Further demands could include those relating to full transparency by political parties of their funders; transparent and comparative bank charges; tax information of tender beneficiaries and the details of settlements between transgressor company’s and regulators.

A program of revolutionary economic transformation can be realised only when we have:

  • Free quality public services
  • Many of our people are still without access to even basic services, especially in the informal settlements and backyards.
  • We believe houses should be built and services provided to meet the needs of the working class and not for profit.
  • The current ongoing commodification of services is denying the poor a right to quality services since they cannot afford to pay.
  • We demand an end to water and electricity disconnections.
  • We demand an immediate end to the installation of pre-paid water meters, including ‘Water Management Devices’ and pre-paid electricity meters
  • We call for the scrapping of all arrears for working class households.
  • Decent jobs for all
  • Unemployment is destroying our communities; unite the unemployed and underemployed in a struggle for both decent housing and decent jobs for all.
  • We demand a ‘Basic Income Grant’ for the unemployed.
  • #Outsourcingmustfall – Scrap the exploitative Expanded Public Works programme characterised by short-term contract jobs at lower wage rates and inferior conditions of service and fight replace it with a massive worker and community controlled public works programme building jobs on a living wage with full worker rights from the first day of employment. The EPWP is just another cheap labour scheme, like the Youth Wage Subsidy, that forces working class people to compete with each other in a ‘race to the bottom’.
  • We reject the low levels at which the sectoral determination on wages are calculated. The ANC government wants to introduce a minimum wage along similar lines. We demand the minimum wage be a living wage put to a workers referendum.
  • We reject the efforts of the state and the bosses to entrench a two-tier labour market.
  • We will campaign jointly with the unions against all cheap labour schemes and the two-tier labour market and for decent jobs for all.
  • Land and Food hunger

The expropriation of the land from the black population, first by colonialism and later by the apartheid state was and is a historical injustice. By the end of apartheid. 87% of land in South Africa was white owned. Despite having a considerable agricultural sector more than one in ten households in South Africa regularly experience hunger.

Only 13% of South African land is suitable for agricultural use. Today, 36 000 predominantly white commercial farmers control 95% of agricultural land – over 100 million hectares. We say:

  • Nationalise the 36 000 commercial farms and the food processing industry under democratic workers control and integrate them into a society-wide democratic socialist plan of production – compensation in cases of proven need (e.g. small shareholders and pension investments);
  • Shift farming and forestry to sustainable ecological methods., e.g. permaculture – end hunger;
  • A living minimum wage for all agricultural workers – all seasonal workers to be made permanent;
  • Workers’ committees on individual farms and at industry level to determine the deployment of labour – reduce the working week without loss of pay out of season;
  • State assistance in the form of cheap loans and access to affordable and sustainable agricultural implements, feed and equipment for the 1.3 million small farmers –cancel the debts of small farmers;
  • State assistance to subsistence farmers in the form of cheap, sustainable fertiliser, pesticides, seed and implements with incentives to socialise subsistence plots at the village level under the democratic control of the community;
  • State control of prices on all basic foodstuffs;
  • Democratic community committees to determine the use of the 87% of non-agricultural land for social need including currently state-owned land and communally held land.
  • Overcome Class inequality and the housing crisis                                                                                            
  • Our situation today, in respect of land and housing, is the outcome of many centuries of: colonial dispossession by the Dutch and the British (despite heroic wars of resistance by the San, the Khoikhoi and the indigenous African people); apartheid-capitalist forced removals, pass laws, denial of property rights and home ownership in the cities and towns; and over two decades of neoliberal capitalism.
  • Today land and housing are key commodities (i.e. things that are constructed or bought and sold for a profit) of the neoliberal capitalist system.
  • While the wealth of the country is produced by the working class, it is concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority of monopoly capitalists (mostly white but also black) who have been spoilt by tax cuts, ultra-cheap electricity, subsidies and other forms of state support.
  • The Constitution protects the rights of the owners to their ill-gotten property. In the neoliberal period it is the banks, the property speculators and the construction companies who have reaps billions and billions of profit from the commodification of land and housing.
  • We therefore call for the nationalization – of the construction industry, the building materials sector, the banks and the land – under workers and community control.
  • We also demand that the rich be taxed so that the budget for housing those in dire housing need is vastly expanded.
  • It is this neoliberal capitalism that has made South Africa the most unequal country in the world, that has replicated highly unequal apartheid spatial patterns and that denies us decent housing.
  • Occupations and evictions
  • We demand the right to occupy land and erect our structures for as long as there is a backlog of decent housing for all.
  • We demand the right not to be evicted or to be moved to other places where we do not wish to live.
  • We demand the closing down of all municipal anti-land invasion units.
  • We believe that occupations are a legitimate means for both people fleeing poverty and unemployment elsewhere in the country, as well as for evicted people, backyarders and those in overcrowded housing, to take their struggle for decent housing forward.
  • Free Quality Public Education for all                                                                                                     # Feesmustfall – Our demand in the anti-Apartheid struggle for ‘Free, compulsory, equal, quality education for all’ from pre-school to the university and colleges has not been met. We call for its immediate implementation. Nationalise private schools, colleges and universities – for an end to class apartheid in education.   Unite school and tertiary students, parents, teachers, other education workers! Away with school/university fees and financial exclusions! Away with overcrowded class-rooms and lecture halls! Enough good quality learning materials, resources, facilities and infrastructure for all! Free decolonized education for all!
  • Free Quality Healthcare for all                                                                                                                         The National Health Insurance being proposed by the ANC government is for the benefit of capitalist who will invest in private health facilities to rake in profits from the increase in medical aid/medical insured members from 8 million to the entire population. We demand free, quality healthcare for all – nationalise all private health care, health insurers and pharmaceutical companies and build an accessible publicly owned national health service under the control of patients, communities and health workers.Unite patients, users and health care workers! Away with long patient queues! Forward to a quality public health system, with enough beds, medicines, nurses, doctors and other health care workers! Away with a two-tier health system! 
  1. Campaign for a Mass Workers Party on a Socialist Program                             

With the onslaught on the living standards of the working class and the political crisis of both party and state, the entire situation cries out for the formation of a Mass Workers Party. This process we believe can be accelerated by a successful struggle to build a mass movement against State Capture. SAFTU has already laid the platform for the Mass Workers Party by agreeing to take the discussion into the ranks of the working class. We must also not lose sight of the rank and file in COSATU who by this time are fed up with their rotten slavish leadership and may be ready to take the leap towards militant struggle and greater working class unity. The building of a mass movement will allow for the convening of an ‘Assembly for Working Class Unity’ to draw up a road map for the launch of such a Mass Workers Party. It is vital that such a party adopts a socialist program.

  1. Fight for a Worker’s Government at local, provincial and national level

The Colonial and Apartheid legacy of South Africa still lives with us to this day. Racial and racist characteristics still define our political and social lives and the myth of a non-racial South Africa established in 1994 is nothing more than justification for the rule of the White Monopoly capitalist class who now share with an elite black capitalist class in the wealth of our country. The bourgeoisie has shown that it is a parasitic class intent only on feeding at the trough. Only the working class and poor have an interest in real democracy. Only the working class and poor have an interest in the establishment of a truly non-racial, non-sexist egalitarian socialist society. To arrive at this we must establish our working class control over our lives, at local, provincial and national level. We must fight for a Workers Government as a step towards a socialist society.

(Ahmed Jooma and Shaheen Khan)

(25/04/2017)

 

____________________

 

[1] WASP statement 4/04/2017

[2] ibid

[3] Wasp statement 4/04/2017

[4] ibid

[5] Oupa Lehulere, The Corruption of a Dream.

[6] ISM Gauteng statement 7/04/2017

[7] Karl Cloete, The Big Question, What Goes in Place of Zuma?

[8] Jeff Rudin, Radical Economic Transformation… Daily Maverick


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