Elections in South Africa: No Vote for the ANC! Critical Support for the WASP! Forward in Building a Mass Workers Party!

Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 25.4.2014, www.thecommunists.net


1.            The upcoming elections in South Africa on 7 May will be held on the backdrop of critical political developments related to the class struggle. As the RCIT has previously stated in several documents, since the heroic Marikana miners’ strike in the summer 2012, South Africa has entered a new, pre-revolutionary phase. In addition to a number of militant strikes, for the first time we are witnessing a split of significant sectors of the working class from the popular-frontist ANC-SACP government. The most important event of this historic development is NUMSA’s break with the popular frontist ANC-SACP government. NUMSA calls for the formation of a united front against the neoliberal attacks of the government, as well as for the formation of a “Movement for Socialism” which many workers interpret as a call for a new mass workers’ party. In addition, the petty-bourgeois left-populist Economic Freedom Fighters, led by the former ANC Youth leader Julius Malema, attracts a lot of support among black youth and militant workers. Finally, there is also the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), which is led by the right-centrist DSM/CWI, but which has received support from sectors of the workers’ vanguard.

2.            The above developments can only be characterized as historic. They indeed open the road to the formation of a mass workers’ party. Unfortunately, the NUMSA leadership remains trapped in a Stalinist schema of the “national-democratic revolution,” and has announced its return to the old ANC program of the 1950s (the “Freedom Charter”). In addition, the leadership of NUMSA vacillates around the question of whether to build a new workers’ party now, and refuses to put forth candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections. This is shameful, and revolutionaries in South Africa should explain in their independent propaganda to the workers’ vanguard that the NUMSA leadership is heading in the wrong direction. Nevertheless, regardless of such criticism, South African revolutionaries must make every effort to participate in the movement initiated by NUMSA and fight shoulder by shoulder with the workers’ vanguard.

3.            What should be the position of Marxists vis-à-vis the 2014 South African general elections? Naturally, they cannot call upon workers to vote for the popular-frontist ANC-SACP list, which has implemented a neoliberal policy for the last two decades. Should they, perhaps, give critical support to Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters? While Marxists should definitely deploy the united front tactic in relation to the EFF so as to reach its young militant supporters, a critical vote for the EFF is not permissible, since it is not a working class organization.

4.            We propose that revolutionaries in South Africa give critical electoral support to the WASP. This is because WASP is the only working class party standing as an independent force in these elections. While it is small and will probably receive only a small number of votes, it definitely represents more than simply the DSM/CWI, as it has roots among the workers’ vanguard. A strong turnout for the WASP will constitute an important call to the workers’ vanguard to found an independent mass workers’ party to the left of the ANC and SACP.

5.            However, such electoral support – lest it be seen as opportunistic – must be combined with sharp criticism of the WASP program and leadership. WASP’s electoral manifesto does not explain that socialism can only be achieved via a workers’ revolution. It tirelessly repeats the old reformist slogans of “democratization of the police” instead of openly calling for armed self-defense units of the workers and poor to defend the working class against massacres similar to Marikana. All this reflects the rotten program of the DSM/CWI which is based on the illusionary dogma of a peaceful transformation to socialism, and their equally reformist notion that police officers are “workers in uniform.

6.            Worse, the DSM/CWI leadership has chosen Moses Mayekiso as their “presidential candidate.” While Mayekiso had a militant past as a trade union leader during the 1980s, subsequently he integrated himself in leading positions of the ANC and the SACP and later became a corrupt capitalist involved in shady deals. For example, Mayekiso served as CEO of Sanco Investment Holdings which in 1999 received R2.5 million for its service in a huge arms deal with the Swedish corporation SAAB, something Mayekiso himself has admitted. (See e.g. Mail & Guardian: How arms dealers pampered Sanco, 08 Apr 2005 http://mg.co.za/article/2005-04-08-how-arms-dealers-pampered-sanco) Mayekiso is a quintessential example of a once leader of the workers who has transformed himself into a traitorous servant of the bourgeoisie. By selecting Mayekiso as their “presidential candidate,” the WASP/CWI leadership demonstrates its cynical attitude to the cause of working class liberation. Socialists who are campaigning for WASP must sharply denounce Mayekiso as well as the WASP leadership which supports him, and should call for his immediate removal from the list.

7.            The election campaign, as well as the period after the elections, must be utilized to build a mass workers’ party, independent of all factions of the bourgeoisie. As we have stated in our statement of 5 February, it would be sectarian to make the adoption of a socialist program a precondition for participating in the formation of a new workers’ party. However, from the outset, socialists should argue for the necessity of adopting an Action Program which outlines the demands to be fought for in order to achieve working class power. Such a program should include the following:

* Expropriation of the super-rich – whether native or foreign, white or black!

* Nationalization of industries and the banks under workers’ control!

* For a plan of public reconstruction – elaborated in detail by and under the control of the workers and poor – to build the necessary infrastructure (housing, electricity, transport, health sector, etc.)!

* Expropriation of white landowners and the nationalization of the land!

* For a government of the workers and poor, based on councils and defended by popular militias of armed masses!

8.            We repeat that the most urgent task now is to unite all authentic revolutionaries in a Bolshevik organization which will fight for such a program. At the same time, the members of this organization will actively participate in the process of establishing a new workers’ party in South Africa, as well as fight for the creation of a new workers’ International which, in our opinion, will be the Fifth Workers’ International. To advance the formation of such a revolutionary organization, the RCIT looks forward to discussing these matters and collaborating with all authentic revolutionaries.



We refer readers to the latest RCIT statement on South Africa: South Africa: Forward to the Building of a Mass Workers’ Party Based on a Revolutionary Program! 5.2.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/south-africa-workers-party/ as well as other documents in South Africa at http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/.