The African National Congress, the former national liberation party of South Africa has lost the local elections. In many towns and cities the party of the late Nelson Mandela lost over -8%. The main reason for this humiliating defeat is the corruption and capitalistic road the ANC has taken since 1994. Instead of building democratic socialism, the party moved to the right-wing and embraced neoliberal economics. Supported by the class-traitors of the South African Communist Party and the Congress of Trade Unions the ANC ruled as a elitist capitalist party, favoring the white ruling class over black workers!
In the national polls the ANC stands now at 54% of the votes. This is a humiliated fact as the party used to win over 69% in 2004. The fall of the ANC started with the rise of Jacob Zuma, a populist who used leftist rhetoric to win the elections. His government however changed nothing and the deep inequality that even Nelson Mandela refused to end, now led to a sharp decline in support for the former national liberation party. A new generation of South Africans is no longer willing to vote for the ANC just because it used to fight against Apartheid. Young workers born after 1994 see a very different African National Congress, a party of greedy politicians and corrupt officials!
A big defeat happened in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality. The neoliberal: Democratic Alliance (DA) defeated the ANC there. In all local councils across the Eastern Cape, the party of Jacob Zuma lost, which is historic consider that we talk about the home province of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and the Mbekis. In desperation Zuma started to claim that the DA is untrustworthy, due to the fact that its previous incarnation collaborated with Apartheid. This is done in Germany too by conservatives who always attack the Left Party on the fact that they partially, came out of the East German Stalinist party. Zuma did the same thing by claiming that the Democratic Alliance, would return the nation to Apartheid. A stunt that was fully rejected in the media. It only fueled the rejection many South Africans felt towards the president!
Some on the left have fallen into desperation after the loss of so many votes to the DA. They claim that black workers betrayed their heritage by voting on the Democratic Alliance. These leftists make a fool of themselves by failing to see that the African National Congress has not been a leftist party since 1994. Although many voted on the DA, it was not done because the working class loved their pro-capitalist politics. They voted for the neoliberal DA because they rejected the other neoliberal party: the ANC!
This is why Zuma lost voters, the working class is no longer blindly following the party of Nelson Mandela. Had the icon of anti-Apartheid remained loyal to his socialist principals, the ANC would have remained a popular workers party. However the compromises Mandela made with the white capitalist class led to the abandonment of socialism. The communist parties of South Africa, Vietnam and China advised the first ANC government to follow capitalism, instead of building a socialist South Africa. As a fighter against racism, Mandela was a great man. But as politician and president, he betrayed the black working class and kept them poor!
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by ”Commander-in-Chief” Julius Malema first wanted to work with the ANC to keep the DA out. But after seeing how this position would cost them voters, the EFF choose to reject any coalition with the African National Congress. Malema’s military style organisation is building on black nationalism, left-wing populism and anti-imperialism. Their icon is Robert Mugabe, the dictator of Zimbabwe. The EFF is supportive of the dictatorial ZANU-PF regime and claims that black workers are more free under Mugabe then under Zuma. Revolutionary socialists have always criticized this position and the way the EFF is organized!
Should the EFF ever choose to work with either the ANC or DA it would mean political suicide for them. The capitalist media in South Africa has also been very skeptical about Julius Malema, who is called a ”dangerous socialist” because he supports the expropriations of the rich and the nationalization of the means of production. Malema’s EFF is not a tool for the whole working class however. White workers feel intimidated by their black nationalism and the support the Economic Freedom Fighters gives to the corrupt (and racist) Zimbabwean African National Union – Patriotic Front!
Meanwhile, Jacob Zuma will keep abusing state resources. He spend 300.000.000 South African rands (20 million euros) on renovating his private villa. The Constitutional Court ordered him to pay that money back, but it remains to be seen if the opportunistic president will do that. Because the ANC controls almost all layers of the government, Jacob Zuma might find more ways out. But should he be jailed, it would be a major victory for workers and poor!
The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) was unable to participate in the local elections due to financial reasons. The small socialist party was founded after the Sharpeville massacre by mine workers and revolutionary socialists from the Democratic Socialist Movement. WASP won 8.000 votes in the last general election, which is modest compare to the fact that the party was founded a year before the 2014 elections. WASP members have asked the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa to build a new workers party on a socialist program. But the unwillingness of NUMSA to move in that direction led to the fact that many voters choose to vote ANC again!
Slowly it becomes clear that the African National Congress is losing the popular vote. It may even be possible that they reach 50% in the next election. Those members of the ANC, communist party and trade unions might even start asking themselves why did they lost votes. However since they are unable to understand the working class at all, it will not come to any surprise that that the communist party and trade unions remain loyal to Jacob Zuma and his corrupt capitalist politics!
Until now it was possible to play on the national liberation character of the ANC to win votes. But the new generation is not buying this anymore. They see the high crime rates, the corruption in the government, the huge inequality and the fact that the white ruling class during Apartheid did not go away. Although poverty among white workers is growing, most whites in South Africa are still enjoying a higher standard of living then black workers!
The EFF are playing on this and abuse the anger of many young blacks. They turn them into black nationalists who sometimes use anti-white rhetoric. This scares the white working class who stays away from the EFF. Most whites vote on the Democratic Alliance and a few vote on the conservative; Freedom Front Plus. Revolutionary socialists argue that workers of all colors should not vote for capitalist parties or nationalist ones. This is why we called on NUMSA to move into the political spectrum, to build a new workers party. Since they rejected the ANC and were expelled from the Congress of Trade Unions, NUMSA is in a historic position to build a new party. With over 338,000 members, the trade union could lay the grounds for class consciousness among workers!
Revolutionary socialists in the Workers and Socialist Party will keep fighting for a mass workers party. We call for:
- Nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy under workers control and management
- Free Quality Education
- Fee Quality Healthcare
- The election of all officials subject to the right of recall
- The election of all public representatives on the average wage of a skilled worker