By: Gumani Tshimomola | Amandla! Issue No.47 | SEPTEMBER 2016
The African National Congress of late has suffered misfortune that has deeply divided the party. This includes the misfortune of personality politics. Most of the misfortune is the party’s own doing. Just a few recent examples of such self-inflicted misfortunes include:
• the recent decision by the National Executive Committee to take “collective responsibility” for election failures even when the electorate point to their loathing for President Jacob Zuma;
• the #Occupy Luthuli house movement;
• the public spat between Eskom, Treasury, South African Revenue Services and the Hawks.
Even the Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, had to plead with the government that is at war with itself to “take care that what they do not destabilise the economy”. There is no doubt the ANC is heading for inevitable calamity.
However, the focus on the deeply divided ANC, the kleptocratic character of the state and these self-inflicted misfortunes do not begin to explain the underperformance of the party in the last 20 years. Beyond the abuse of state resources and the use of the state to distribute government jobs and tenders, there is a deeper and much more catastrophic character of the ANC of today. The ANC fails to consider popular and mass bases movements and the working class as part of its future. How else would one explain the National Development Plan (NDP)?
So we continue to witness unwillingness to radically transform the capitalist system to benefit the overwhelming majority of society, blacks in particular. Since the inception of GEAR, capitalist productivity and economic growth have been the main thrust of South Africa’s economic policies. This answers the question of whether the interpretation of the national democratic revolution, in ANC terms, is capitalist or socialist.
The party has been and continues to be central in dismantling the hard fought revolutionary position of workers, once the most militant and powerful workers anywhere in the world. Perhaps the transition to “democracy”, welcome as it may be, made many to overlook the combination of old and new class alliances. As a result, the vigilance required on the part of the working class diminished. Those purporting to represent the working class spent more time scheming and manipulating executive committees to defend the shenanigans of a party and its leaders whose neoliberal policies are a source of the onslaught on workers. The government has dragged its feet over a national minimum wage. The government has supported the use of labour brokers and it is students leading the fight against it.
Numbers of prominent members of civil society and the “ANC” have come out and demanded that President Jacob Zuma resign from office. This shows disillusionment with the prospects of the ANC to build a new, vibrant nation where the majority, particularly poor and working blacks, would have their place in the mainstream economy. The ANC does not have the leadership or political command required to lead a transformative and meaningful confrontation of capital, even if Zuma resigns tomorrow.
The issue here is much more than just Zuma and the morally bankrupted leadership of the ANC. No doubt Zuma’s resignation will in a minute way advance the strengthening of radical left and working class formations towards the further division and total collapse of the ANC. However, this cannot be a forgone conclusion, particularly in the absence of strengthened and effective cooperation between the now fragmented left.
The strategy and tactics of radical left movements require an understanding of the interweaving of workers, popular movements and mass based organising. Instruments must be created to give expression to the aspirations of exploited workers, desperate unemployed youth, and disregarded rural poor – and to fully integrate all these formations. Transfer of economic power must take place in such a way that people can see and give expression to the importance of addressing the current challenges we face as a society. Workers must work in good working conditions. There must be a living national minimum wage. Quality education must be accessible and free for all. Quality healthcare must be accessible and free for all. The environment must be protected. Infant industries must be protected. It is then that the wealth of our country can be meaningful to our people as a whole and will not be manipulated by corrupt sections or individuals as we are witnessing today.
Gumani Tshimomola is a Senior Researcher with the EFF Parliamentary Caucus.