We have witnessed the developments in the alliance (ANC-SACP-Cosatu) and how Cosatu and SACP have been deceived by the ANC bourgeoisie bloc to collapse workers’ unity in order to implement capitalist policies freely. We have witnessed how the capatalists have teamed up with the ANC leaders to purge the likes of Zwelinzima Vavi and Numsa leadership in general. We have witnessed how Marikana occurred and how the system works to undermine justice in the name of “commissions”.
However, the struggle for Socialism requires struggles for students and workers unity in action. Let us turn to the Fourth Congress of the Third International, the thesis on Communist work in trade unions:
“Despite the fierce anti-Communist witch-hunts being stirred up everywhere by the reformists, we must continue to fight for the slogan of the Communist International – against the splitting of the trade unions – with the same militancy with which we have fought for it up till now. The reformists are trying to use expulsions to provoke a split. Their aim in systematically driving the best elements out of the unions is to make the Communists lose their patience and nerve, so that instead of completing their carefully thought-out plan to win the trade unions from within, the Communists will leave the unions and come out in favour of a split”.’ (Comintern, 1921).
In Leon Trotsky’s article; Permanent Revolution & Results and Prospects, we have learned that in the event of a decisive victory of the revolution, power will pass into the hands of that class which plays a leading role in the struggle—in other words, into the hands of the proletariat. Let us say at once that this by no means precludes revolutionary representatives of non-proletarian social groups entering the government. They can and should be in the government: a sound policy will compel the proletariat to call to power the influential leaders of the urban petty-bourgeoisie, of the intellectuals and of the peasantry.
The whole problem consists in this: who will determine the content of the government’s policy, who will form within it a solid majority?
It is one thing when representatives of the democratic strata of the people enter a government with a workers’ majority, but it is quite another thing when representatives of the proletariat participate in a definitely bourgeois-democratic government in the capacity of more or less honoured hostages.
The policy of the liberal capitalist bourgeoisie, in all its wavering’s, retreats and treacheries, is quite definite. The policy of the proletariat is even more definite and finished. But the policy of the intellectuals, owing to their socially intermediate character and their political elasticity; the policy of the peasantry, in view of their social diversity, their intermediate position and their primitiveness; the policy of the urban petty-bourgeoisie, once again owing to its lack of character, its intermediate position and its complete lack of political tradition—the policy of these three social groups is utterly indefinite, unformed, full of possibilities and therefore full of surprises.
It is sufficient to try to imagine a revolutionary democratic government without representatives of the proletariat to see immediately the senselessness of such a conception, the exploitation. The refusal of the social-democrats to participate in a revolutionary government would render such a government quite impossible and would thus be equivalent to a betrayal of the revolution. But the participation of the proletariat in a government is also objectively most probable, and permissible in principle, only as a dominating and leading participation. One may, of course, describe such a government as the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, a dictatorship of the proletariat, peasantry and intelligentsia, or even a coalition government of the working class and the petty-bourgeoisie, but the question nevertheless remains: who is to wield the hegemony in the government itself, and through it in the country? And when we speak of a workers’ government, by this we reply that the hegemony should belong to the working class.
The ANC in the ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance, as an organ of the bourgeoisie dictatorship, was by no means composed of proletariat alone. There were so many leaders who belonged to the bourgeoisie background looking at the leadership of the ANC being the sons and daughters of the priests and chiefs; who had power over the people.
More than that—the bourgeoisie were in a minority in it; but the influence of the
This bourgeoisie outside the walls of the alliance, and the need for a determined policy in order to “save the country”, gave power into the hands of the ruling elite. Thus, while the alliance was a national representation, consisting of workers, peasants in civil society organs and the vast wavering centre known as the
“Veterans”, in essence it was a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
The ranks and file of the working class are lied to by the government propaganda that says “we are on your side”. They are being lied to by their leaders as well in the Cosatu federation that says “This government is the government of the workers by the workers and the workers should protect it”.
When we speak of a workers’ government we have in view a government in which the working-class representatives dominate and lead. The proletariat, in order to consolidate its power, cannot but widen the base of the revolution. Many sections of the working masses, particularly in the countryside, will be drawn into the revolution and become politically organized only after the advance-guard of the revolution, the urban proletariat, stands at the helm of state.
Revolutionary agitation and organization will then be conducted with the help of state resources. The legislative power itself will become a powerful instrument for revolutionizing the masses. The nature of our social-historical relations, which
lays the whole burden of the bourgeois revolution upon the shoulders of the proletariat, will not only create tremendous difficulties for the government but, in the first period of its existence at any rate, will also give it invaluable advantages.
In the case of South Africa the government that is led by the ANC is in no way closer being a “workers’ government” that the Cosatu federation wishes it to be.
According to the Department of Labour, 1 Feb 2015, there are 23 labour federations in South Africa. The biggest are Cosatu, Fedusa, Consawu and Nactu. By the second quarter of 2015, there were only 3.7 million trade union members of a total number of employed people of 15.7 million. This is a 23.6% unionisation rate. When we consider that 36 million are of the age 15-64 then the unionisation is at about 10%. Despite this, leadership of revolutionary uprisings have always been in the hands of a revolutionary vanguard, who step to the front and gives decisive leadership. Cosatu is controlled by the SACP, although their membership and even that of the ANC, are only a fraction of the total membership.
Cosatu, despite its posture of independence, is the most integrated into the capitalist state, having provided a steady stream of Cabinet Ministers since 1994 up to now. Besides the ANC, the SACP has also provided a steady stream of Ministers and recently its current General Secretary is also Minister of Higher Education. Each affiliate of Cosatu has a network of SACP members who report to the state on activities and activists in the union.
The imperialists have been allowed to impose their attacks on the masses, except for the occasional symbolic actions (1 day strikes). GEAR, New Growth Path, and now the NDP, all plans of imperialism, have been implemented, with minor changes, thanks to the SACP holding back the organised masses in Cosatu. Virtually every general strike from 1985 to date has been spearheaded by Cosatu, even though the number of general strikes has been reduced drastically since 1994. More crucially, these strikes have been driven by the masses and curtailed and shortened by the SACP. How so?
Among, the most class conscious working class activists, in recent times, have been located in Numsa. The 2013 Numsa Special Congress made a call for Cosatu to break its alliance with the ANC and SACP and to take steps towards the establishment of a workers’ party. The expulsion of Numsa from Cosatu was a calculated move by the ANC and SACP to drive out the most critical and class conscious workers from the ranks of the federation. This was in order to keep Cosatu under the control of the ANC and SACP. The next attack was to dominate the media landscape, giving EFF and Agang and other small political formations voices in the media and shun the Numsa and the likes of WASP in the public domain. This is because of the class ideologies and Marxist rhetoric – which the capitalists are far more afraid if the ideas swell the ranks of the working class like wild fire.
Now, while the ANC and SACP thought that they defeated the class struggle politics in the Cosatu or workers federation in SA there are many students and workers’ struggles intensifying since 2014. The #Feesmustfall and #Outsourcingmustfall are the struggles that have got the ANC and SACP off guard. Surprised as they were they needed to instill trust 9the ANC in its conference after the 2016 local elections were it lost major metros to DA said ‘there is a trust deficit in the country from the ANC’ amongst the masses.
But while every bourgeois party commanding the votes of the peasantry hastens to use its power in order to swindle and deceive the peasants and then, if the worst comes to the worst, gives place to another capitalist party, the proletariat, relying on the peasantry, will bring all forces into play in order to raise the cultural level of the countryside and develop the political consciousness of the peasantry.
The #Feesmustfall in itself is a class conscious struggle. It represents the widest range of students across all the racial lines. White, coloured and black students and outsourced employees of universities coming together to say “enough is enough”, we need to destroy the system – of colonialism and exploitation.
Indeed, such a coalition presupposes either that one of the existing bourgeois parties commands influence over the peasantry (ANC and SACP) or that the peasantry will have created a powerful independent MOVEMENT of its own. The students’ movements, divided into the haves and the have not’s; its radicalism and formlessness as the Group of Toils is the expression of the contradictoriness in the revolutionary aspirations of the peasantry. The lack of independence on the part of
the student representatives will show itself with particular clearness at the moment when it becomes necessary to show firm initiative, that is, at the time when power has to pass into the hands of the revolutionaries.
South Africa is at the edge of the permanent revolution as the ruling class deploys its lithal forces against the proletariat, workers and students.
The expulsion of Numsa from Cosatu was to prevent the development of a new working class party which would have taken Cosatu as its base.
- The crackdown on #Feesmustfall and arrests of the student leaders to put a stoppage on the movement of students, to purge and overturn the class struggle and consciousness amongst the youth.
The bourgeoisie in the alliance (ANC in particular) exercises their share of influence in the Cosatu, SACP and Peasants’ Committees, the organs of the agrarian revolution in the villages, but needless to say the Peasants’ Committees, economic-administrative institutions, will not be able to abolish the political struggles for dependence of the country upon the town, which forms one of the fundamental features of modern society.