Note of the Editorial Board: Below we publish a letter which has been circulated amongst socialists in South Africa. It has been sent by the RCIT in late May in response to the publication of the draft "Platform for the Left Bloc in the 'Zuma Must Go' Campaign" written by the comrades Ahmed Jooma and Shaheen Khan. The platform has been published on the website of the Khanya journal (http://khanyajournal.org.za/platform-of-the-left-bloc-in-the-zuma-must-go-campaign/).
* * * * *
Thanks for forwarding us your "Platform for the Left Bloc in the 'Zuma Must Go' Campaign". We think that this document is highly interesting and provides a useful basis for discussion among revolutionaries in South Africa and internationally.
In the following letter we would like to outline some observations on your platform. We will not outline here our assessment of the political situation in South Africa in the last years and refer you, as a summary of our views, to two documents of the RCIT (http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/south-africa-election-tactics/, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/south-africa-workers-party/) as well as our recently published Theses on Black Africa (https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/africa-theses/).
Obviously we ask you to take into account that we have to refrain ourselves to rather general remarks as we are not so closely familiar with the current concrete situation in South Africa. Hence we will focus here on some analytical and methodological issues.
We want to emphasize that we agree with your economic analysis, your general anti-capitalist and socialist outlook as well as your denunciation of the Stalinist/ANC strategy of NDR which in fact has always been only a cover for its capitulation to White Monopoly Capital.
Your analysis of the ‘State Capture’ by the Zuma faction of the ANC and its fusion with a sector of capital (Gupta, etc.) sounds sensible and convincing to us.
You repeatedly speak about the ANCYL/WL/MKMVA as (semi-)fascist forces. While we are aware that petty-bourgeois-nationalist, populist forces have the potential to become fascists, we are not sure if this is a correct characterization in this case. In general, we would warn against a too loose use of the term "fascist" and would restrict it to paramilitary movements in the service of imperialist capital with the goal to annihilate the workers government and bourgeois democracy. In our opinion it is not necessary to characterize the Zupta regime as potentially fascist in order to legitimize the need to focus the struggle against it. Yes, revolutionaries should support the present mass protests against the regime because it represents a reactionary, increasingly Bonapartist neoliberal regime in the service of monopoly capital.
We agree that revolutionaries must not support any wing in the current power struggle inside the bourgeois, popular-frontist ANC.
We agree with your assessment of the present situation as having the potential to transform into an "Arab Spring" situation and hence the necessity to fight for a revolutionary Action Program.
We agree with your criticism of the NUMSA leadership and of their strategy of abstaining from the growing mass movement.
It seems correct to us to say that the present mass movement against the Zuma regime has a cross-class character. We also share your approach that it would be sectarian to organize a small movement outside of this mass movement. It is necessary to fight inside this mass movement and to combine it with a perspective to fight for working class independence and against the influence of the bourgeois (e.g. DA) and petty-bourgeois parties (e.g. EFF) and to finally destroy their influence.
In this context it might be worth mentioning that Trotsky – contrary to the ultra-leftists – also argued for working inside the mass action committees of the French popular front in the 1930s in order to better break up the popular front.
On the other hand, joining organized political popular front campaign like "Save SA" would be completely unprincipled for Marxists.
We strongly support your perspective to call for the creation of action committees as the basis for an authentic mass movement.
Our biggest difference with your document is probably that we consider your call "Bring Forward General Elections!" as completely wrong. We consider it as wrong because it shifts the focus of the current mass struggle to a parliamentary level. Naturally, if elections take place revolutionaries will not ignore it and either stand candidates independently, participate in a workers party or give critical support to reformist/left-populist parties. But in the current situation it would massively disorientate the mass movement if you call for elections now. The focus must rather be to better organize and mobilize the mass movement towards a general strike and a popular uprising in order to prepare for the overthrow of the government. This could open the perspective for the formation of the government of the workers and poor.
In contrast your slogan of elections now does NOT open the perspective for a workers government because i) such a workers government should be based on soviet-like councils and militias and not the parliament and ii) there exists currently no party you could call to vote for and which would fight for a workers government inside the parliament.
In this context we want to draw your attention to the fact that you do not mention the issue of the armed self-defense of the working class and the poor against the state repression and the "fascists" a single time! This however seems to us to be an important issue – even more so should it be for you since you characterize your enemies partly as "fascists"! We also mention this because there is a strong reformist tradition in South Africa which creates illusions in the possibility of a peaceful transformation to socialism (the Stalinist SACP, the centrist CWI/WASP, etc). Hence these forces all oppose or are silent on the necessity of the arming of the working class and the poor. The task of revolutionaries is to fight against such illusions and openly denounce their reformist supporters.
In general we feel you should give more emphasis to the issue of building a mass workers party respectively a Bolshevik organization fighting for a revolutionary program. A "Left Bloc" in the best case can only be a temporary thing.
Finally we have a question to you: do you consider South Africa as an imperialist or a semi-colonial state? Or do you share Patrick Bond's opinion that it is sub-imperialist?
We hope our comments are of any use for you and look forward to your thoughts.
Michael Pröbsting (International Secretary of the RCIT) and Tinashe Mhukahuru (Zimbabwe Section of the RCIT)