Friday, April 12, 2019

SA's Left in a Mess

Around a thousand people attended the three-day launch congress of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party last week. The SRWP announced that it will contest the May 8 general election and its leader, Irvin Jim, has stated that the aim will be to do better than the left-populist Economic Freedom Fighters, which in 2014 was the third largest party with 25 seats (6.35%). Elected national chair and effective leader, he has already stated that it will include the aim of “eradicating poverty and unemployment within five years”. 

Among the other policy motions agreed was the establishment of a single education system and the elimination of private schools.

As communists we have an old view that elections are not necessarily a solution. However, they are a tactic that can be explored to test if we have the support of the working class.”

Anyone who fills in an application form, the SRWP would enforce strict criteria. There will be a “60-day induction programme” and members will be expected to “undergo rigorous political training” and sign a code of conduct.

The driving force behind the SRWP is the country’s largest trade union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa). Back in 2013 Numsa announced that it had broken with the ruling African National Congress and its alliance partner, the South African Communist Party, in protest at the blatantly neoliberal policies of the ANC government. Up until then Numsa had been a prominent force within the SACP-led Congress of South African Trade Unions, but, as a result of its schism with the ANC, it was expelled from Cosatu soon afterwards and felt obliged to set up a rival confederation, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).

The SRWP issued a statement on April 8 that it is:
a Marxist-Leninist party fighting for the establishment of a classless society. Our primary objective is to organise and unite the working class by raising the levels of consciousness, around the class divisions in society. We are in a struggle to overthrow the capitalist system and replace it with a democratic socialist state."
At the congress , Numsa president Andrew Chirwa stated:
This is not a party for reform. This is a party for communists. We are serious about the revolution. We are a party for socialism and nothing else.”
SRWP spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola commented:
We are the only ones fighting for the total destruction of capitalism.”
Can it be accidental that the SRWP have adopted the slogan, ‘Equality, work and land’ - rather reminiscent of the Bolsheviks’ ‘Peace, land and bread’.
Shaheen Khan, a member of the SRWP national working committee, explained that rather than pursuing votes the SRWP is “focused on using every opportunity to raise the consciousness of the working class on the nature of the capitalist system and our need to organise independently outside of parliament and against it”. The party’s aim is “merely to secure a presence in parliament, from which we can raise the working class voice and expose the capitalist nature of parliament itself”

Workers around the world and not just in South Africa have been here before. Is there a need to re-invent the wheel and create another version of the South African Communist Party? That model of a workers' party has failed but it seems the lesson has not been learned. Should workers in South Africa continue to cling to the basic Bolshevik premises? The SRWP's Khan is peddling dangerous anti-parliamentarian deceptions. While the SRWP declares itself as a party of no reforms, it issues a series of reform promises.

There can be no national solution to the struggles of workers in South Africa because capitalism is itself international. Their struggles are closely linked to the struggles of workers elsewhere; our fate is bound up with theirs. The World Socialist Movement therefore urges our fellow workers in South Africa to seriously consider its alternative. What we seek cannot be brought about by putting our trust in SRWP leaders, regardless of how enlightened they believe themselves to be. It must arise from the self-organization of ordinary people, conscious of that alternative, and determined to make it a reality. 

Together, we can make it a reality.

Freely Aadpted from

No comments: