The Marikana Massacre, the Death of the ANC and the fight to complete the South African Revolution
The African National Congress (ANC) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) are largely dominated by the Stalinists of the South African Communist Party (SACP).
The ANC was formed in 1912 as a response to the formation of the Union of South Africa (1), a colonialist government dominated by the English. It’s goal was never to lead the struggles of African nations or the struggles of city workers and miners. The ANC always saw its role as representing the emergent African middle classes and small business owners in the cities. That always limited its ability to appeal to workers, miners, farm workers, the unemployed and those living in poverty.
The ANC pretends to be an African nationalist movement but it certainly does not represent the interests of African workers. When the ANC did try to recruit workers it was a ploy to use them as cannon fodder in their fight against Afrikaner (Boer) Apartheid regime. Since replacing the Afrikaner government in 1994 the ANC has secured a continuation of colonialist ownership of the commanding heights of the SA economy while carving out of share of middle level economic control through the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) program. They promoted a ‘trickle down’ theory that the rise of ANC millionaires would somehow create general wealth among African workers.
Trickle down didn’t work in the USA and it doesn’t work in the RSA.
“The unemployment rate in South Africa was last reported at 24.9 percent in the second quarter of 2012. Historically, from 2000 until 2012, South Africa Unemployment Rate averaged 25.5 Percent reaching an all time high of 31.2 Percent in March of 2003 and a record low of 21.9 Percent in December of 2008 .” It’s likely much higher because this rate, like the US ‘official’ rate only counts those looking for a job. (2)
“Eighteen years after the end of apartheid, South Africa is now judged to be one of the most unequal societies in the world and its 19 million children bear the brunt of the disconnect. The UNICEF report found that 1.4 million children live in homes that rely on often dirty streams for drinking water, 1.5 million have no flushing lavatories and 1.7 million live in shacks, with no proper bedding, cooking or washing facilities. Four in 10 live in homes where no one is employed and, in cases of dire poverty, the figure rises to seven in 10.” (3)
The alliance of the ANC, SACP and COSATU, like the alliance of the Democrats and Republicans in the US, has spearheaded the attack on militant unions and on the standard of living of workers. Like ‘trickle down’, that hasn’t worked. There have been large strikes by government workers, miners and others which COSATU couldn’t prevent, although it had limited success in betraying some of them. “Strikes across South Africa have resulted in 2 806 656 working days being lost in the labour market in 2011, says a labour department official. (4)
The ANC is in the process of splitting with significant forces moving left and calling for a socialist solution to the problems facing SA workers and unemployed workers. The situation is further enhanced by the explosions of the ‘Arab Spring’, in reality a rising of Arab and muslim workers across the region which, although its development has yet to produce mass workers parties much less a workers government, is galvanizing workers across the world, from Athens to Madison to South Africa. The unemployed are also finding a voice.
The murderous attacks on the mineworkers mark a turning point in politics in SA. The ANC/COSATU/SACP alliance is becoming increasingly discredited, is unraveling and opposition to them is sure to crystallize in new working class groups who’ll be able to defeat them.
(1) The South Africa Act of 1909 was an Act of the British Parliament which created the Union of South Africa from the British colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River Colony, and Transvaal. wiki