Tag Archives: African National Congress

South Africa: Workers, Soldiers Challenge ANC Rulers

In South Africa (SA), the misery of the working class has taken a violent turn. During July and August, the working class there held militant demonstrations against the profit system run by the capitalist African National Congress (ANC) government. Soldiers, municipal and chemical workers, miners and workers in the townships participated. As one worker stated, “The ANC turned their backs on us.”

The workers were demanding pay increases and basic services — housing, electricity and water. To maintain their fascist law and order against the workers’ anger, the ANC ordered out the police who used rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas. (The Mail Guardian, a SA daily newspaper.)

As the capitalist crisis hits worldwide, the profit system is becoming more unstable daily. The working class in SA is facing huge cut-backs in their daily living standards. Over 40% of the working class lives  below the poverty level. (The Economist, 7/25) One in four is now jobless while the cost of food and fuel have skyrocketed. In the shanty towns around the big cities, people are cold and hungry. Millions of workers live in leaky shacks without electricity or running water.

The reformist ANC and its allies, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the SA Communist Party have no solutions for the working class. All represent the bosses’ profit system.

So now we see that the abolition of the apartheid system in 1994 did not free black workers from capitalist exploitation. That system was a totally divisive capitalist-run society in which a politically dominant white minority ruled to maintain the intensely exploitative profit system. Millions of workers worldwide supported the struggle against apartheid. Thousands of black workers were jailed and many were killed. Thus, the end of apartheid gave birth to a black SA leadership.

The ANC represents local and international bosses. The SA economy is important to the capitalist world because it is particularly rich in mineral resources and is one of the world’s leading raw material exporters. This includes gold, diamonds, platinum, chromium, manganese, uranium, iron ore and coal.

During the 1960s’ U.S. civil rights movement, rebellious black workers rocked every major city. However, this did not end racism and super-exploitation of black workers. The movement eliminated some forms of legal segregation, but clearly did not end racism or segregation. The idea that racism could be defeated without overthrowing the capitalist system ended up giving rise to black bosses and politicians.

Today, these politicians are performing a tremendously valuable service for the capitalist class. They divert black, Latin and white workers into the polling booths instead of fighting back.

The Progressive Labor Party led many militant demonstrations on university campuses and at work-places against the apartheid system and segregation. But PLP also  put forward the abolition of capitalism and fought for workers’ power and communism.

Today, the world is entering another historic period of economic crisis, war and fascism, all stemming from the internal insoluble contradictions of capitalism. Therefore,  building the PLP-led international communist movement is essential for workers’ power.

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Racist Anti-Immigrant Gangs Betray Anti-Apartheid Fight


“Shock” is the expression being used after the eruption of violence on a scale not seen since the end of apartheid. “Anger at substantial immigrant populations — fellow blacks mainly from Zimbabwe and Mozambique — has seen at least 22 people killed in the past week since the first incidents in the northern Johannesburg township of Alexandra. The killing has now spread through the country like wild-fire…” (London Times online, 5/19)

The violent anti-immigrant pogrom has been fueled by the same lies directed against immigrants in Europe and the U.S. — they “steal jobs, cause crime,” etc.  Racist gangs have employed the weapons used against traitors during the anti-Apartheid era, like “neck-lacing” (burning tires around victims’ necks).
This racist violence is not “shocking” if we understand the real cause. Racism and inequality are universal aspects of capitalism, from Paris to London to New York to Johannesburg.

Since the African National Congress (ANC) took power following the dismantlement of the old apartheid regime, the lives of some black politicians and petit-bourgeois elements have improved, but life is harder for the majority of black workers. Last year, mass workers’ strikes reflected this situation. “People are having to find scapegoats, this is about competition for diminishing resources…. President Mbeki has tried to de-racialise the economy but only a very small number at the top have really benefited,” said Sipho Seephe, President of the South Africa Institute of Race Relations. (London Times) “Some 40 percent of the population — 80 percent of which is black — is little better off than at the end of apartheid in 1994.”

Another important lesson is that there is no half-way solution to the evils of a worldwide capitalist system involved in endless wars, continuing economic crises and the need to divide and super-exploit more and more workers to reap super-profits. Once the imperialists and capitalists realized the old apartheid regime couldn’t control South Africa’s angry workers and youth, the ANC came to power. Nelson Mandela, Mbeki and Jacob Zuma (the next President) — supported by the “Communist” Party of South Africa (with a substantial base among its most militant workers and youth because of the “C”P’s role in fighting apartheid) — became capitalism’s managers. They provided some cosmetic changes but without changing the essence of racist exploitation.

Zwelinzima Vavi , leader of the COSATU union federation, spoke at a protest organized by the ANC-CP-led federation outside parliament. He said it’s not the Zimbawean exiles causing the problems for poor South Africans, even blaming capitalism. But only 100 people protested, showing the lack of credibility of COSATU, which since 1994 has supported the ANC governments and its free-market capitalist policies, and now backs the new ANC President Zuma.

The racist gangs are murdering immigrant workers in the same townships where heroic battles against apartheid were waged in the past, a direct product of these sellouts’ pro-capitalist policies. Now the struggle to build a society without racism and capitalism is now more difficult than ever. But it’s the only struggle which will eventually extricate workers here and worldwide, out of this capitalist-created hell.

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