South African Socialists discuss the need for an independent Class Struggle Trade Union

Introduction by the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 4.12.2013, to a document of the Revolutionary Marxist Group (South Africa)


Below we publish a document of the Revolutionary Marxist Group (South Africa) called “Open Letter to NUMSA CEC on the Attack on Cosatu and the current situation”. It deals with an important debate which is going on inside the South African workers movement: How can COSATU – South Africa’s main trade union federation – defend the workers interests if the trade union bureaucracy participates since many years in a bloc with the capitalist ANC government? It is a well-known fact that the ANC – with the support of the Stalinist Communist Party of South Africa (SACP) – is governing the country’s capitalist system since 1994. ANC and SACP betrayed the heroic revolutionary mass struggle of the 1980s and made a rotten deal with South Africa’s monopoly capital which opened the door to a “democratic” counter-revolution. (1)

Since then the COSATU union bureaucracy has been part of the so-called “Triple Alliance” with the ANC and the SACP. But the deterioration of the living conditions for the working class and poor have resulted in an outburst of militant strikes – most prominently the heroic Marikana strike in August 2012 – and several splits from COSATU and the ANC. Most important amongst them are the massive growth of miners union AMCU at the cost of the COSATU-affiliated NUM, the formation of the Workers and Socialist Party (with the support of many miners’ strike committees) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF), a split from the ANC led by Julius Malema. There can be no doubt that South Africa has entered a pre-revolutionary phase since the Marikana strike. (2)

Currently important forces inside NUMSA – the metal workers union which is now the biggest single union inside COSATU – oppose the union’s subordination towards the ANC and advocate a militant class struggle policy. It is this context in which the RMG published its “Open Letter”.

We do not hide that we have important differences with the RMG. Most importantly we totally reject it’s support for the reactionary position of Socialist Fight and its Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (SF/LCFI) which sided with the bourgeois Gaddafi dictatorship against the popular uprising in 2011. (3)

However, irrespective of these differences, we publish the RMG’s document in order to open a debate with South African socialists about the perspectives for revolutionaries in the current period. We look forward to contributions from South African socialists.



(1) See on this the RCIT’s article from Michael Pröbsting: South Africa: Revolutionary and Centrist Tactics against the ANC’s orchestrated Democratic Counterrevolution in 1994. A Reply to Socialist Fight and the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International, 7.11.2013,

(2) Here are some of the articles and statements which the RCIT published during the Marikana strike in 2012:

RCIT: Perspectives and some first lessons from the miners’ strike and the police massacre in South Africa, 20.8.2012,

Michael Pröbsting: South Africa: The traitors in their own words. On the South African “Communist” Party who call the police to arrest the miners leaders, 17.8.2012,

Michael Pröbsting: The real situation of the miners in Marikana in South Africa, 21.8.2012,

Michael Pröbsting: South African „communists“ continue to support police violence against miners, 18.9.2012,

RCIT: Action Programme for Miners' Victory in South Africa, 18.9.2012,

(3) See: For the unconditional defence of Libya against Imperialism! For a Military United Front with Gaddafi to defeat NATO and the CIA armed "rebels"! No confidence in the government of Tripoli; only by arming all the people and by the permanent revolution can we win the struggle! Statement on Libya by the Liga Comunista of Brazil, the Revolutionary Marxist Group of South Africa and Socialist Fight of Britain, 21 April 2011; in: Socialist Fight No. 6 (2011),

The RCIT’s position on the unfinished democratic revolution in Libya is expressed in several articles and documents:

RCIT: The Arab Revolution is a central touchstone for socialists! Open Letter to All Revolutionary Organizations and Activists, 4.10.2013,

Michael Pröbsting: Liberation struggles and imperialist interference. The failure of sectarian “anti-imperialism” in the West: Some general considerations from the Marxist point of view and the example of the democratic revolution in Libya in 2011, Autumn 2012,

RKOB (Austrian Section of the RCIT): After the collapse of the Gaddafi regime: Where now for the Libyan Revolution?, 24.8.2011,

Michael Pröbsting: The intervention of the imperialist powers in Libya, the struggle of the masses against Gaddafi’s dictatorship and the tactics of revolutionary communists”; in: Revolutionary Communism No. 1, September 2011,


RMG - Open Letter to NUMSA.pdf
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