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Revolutionary struggle and tactics: Reply to Andile Mngxitama on his letter to EFF


Trevor Shaku is the national spokesperson for the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu). He writes in his personal capacity.

Andile Mngxitama has written a polemical letter to Julius Malema and the EFF post the 2016 Local Government Elections (LGE) in which he claims to be offering the EFF a challenge for them to choose between opting for advancing on a revolutionary path instead of strengthening the hand of white supremacy.

In what he calls an opportune window presented by history, Mngxitama challenges the EFF to give the ANC the metro governments which were tightly contested with the DA. In arguing for the option of advancing the revolution, Mngxitama proposes that the EFF gives the ANC control of the metros by putting forward five demands that must be a prerequisite for such a coalition.

Mngxitama’s option for the EFF to give the ANC the metros is premised, in his own words, on breaking with the “imperialist agenda” and avoiding a coalition with the “racist party of white monopoly capital”, the DA, and “choose the path of revolutionary progress”.

Imperialist Agenda’

Amidst a plethora of evidence that the ANC has been co-opted by global capitalism, Mngxitama dares to make a claim that giving the ANC these metros is to break with imperialism. In fact, South Africa has been positioned as a centre stage of imperialism in Africa — a sub-imperialist power in the southern and central regions of Africa.

It provides a gateway for imperialist powers to plunder African resources, exploit the poor masses and impoverish these countries. Its interest as a sub-imperialist power is to grow its groomed comprador and bureaucratic bourgeoisie into a fully fledged national bourgeoisie, driving South Africa’s development by the pillage and underdevelopment of other African countries.

For instance, the ANC’s often denied investment wing, Chancellor House, has made investments in the Swaziland mines. It owns a 75% stake in the Maloma Colliery in Swaziland. It is in these mines that super-exploitation of the Swazi people is rife in order to fund the dividends of the Luthuli House elite and King Mswati’s ridiculously extravagant life.

The deputy president of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, and his business partners in Glencor have been responsible for the deepening of the imperialist agenda in central Africa, resulting in super-exploitation, civil wars and dislocation of people. Some of these Africans, dislocated from their countries due to imperialist instigated wars, become victims of xenophobic attacks when they arrive in South Africa.

White monopoly capital’

Having endorsed the system which is capitalist in content, neoliberal in form, and neocolonial in character, the ANC thus endorsed the “white monopoly capital” as the captains of capitalism in SADC, and Africa over. Having found several mega companies in the hands of the National Party government, the ANC went further to commercialise them for the benefit of capital. This was more than an underwriting; it was an economic commitment to the global captains of industries and finance, who are predominantly white.

Mngxitama! Are you suggesting that if it was another type of capital rather than “white monopoly capital” it would have been better! It is not “white monopoly capital” alone that is a problem, but monopoly capital as such. The recent uproar about “state capture” in fact reflected the contest between two monopoly capitalist camps for political leadership, especially given South Africa’s position as a sub-imperialist power. This contest presented the ANC’s commitment towards monopoly capitalism – white and brown, western and eastern, BRICS and Anglo-American at its best. In fact China and Malaysia, are said to be among the leading investors in Africa. This fact alone renders the crying about “white monopoly capitalism” alone close to obsolete.

It is on the basis of these factors that the masses, and the rank and file of the EFF, must reject the 1652s (DA) and 1912s (ANC) altogether, for they represent two sides of the same coin – capitalism. The EFF must not give the metros to any of these capitalist parties, nor go into any coalition with them. It must indeed, I agree with you, break with monopoly capitalism.

Revolutionary Struggle

You call restoration and concentration of power in the hands of the ANC an advance and revolutionary progress, because of the five demands that you propose the EFF must put before the ANC! Do you really think the ANC can concede to these demands: land expropriation without compensation; nationalisation of mines and banks; free education for all, living wages and basic income grants; reparations for Marikana?

Lest you forget, let us remind you that the ANC committed to neo-liberalism from 1996 when it adopted Gear. The adoption of Gear joined the ANC into holy ideological matrimony with the DA in front of the altar of capitalism they both worship. The ANC did not collectivise land when it had the outright majority to do so. Together with the capitalists it continues to justify slave wages and has not simply failed, but refuses to abolish the apartheid wage system, because it serves their class interests. Marikana was orchestrated by them in defence of capital – its darling. Despite these facts, the EFF founders were thrown out of the ANC for demanding exactly that.

To think that the ANC can concede to these demands wrongly suggests that, after 20 years of neoliberalism, there is still some revolutionary will in the ANC. This is misleading. The ANC’s direction and actions are driven by class instincts, and all of the five demands are diametrically opposed to the class interests the ANC represents and is driving. Furthermore, it is on some of the five demands (namely, nationalisation and land collectivisation/expropriation) that the EFF has recently been retreating.

Racial Reductionism

The recipe for this miscalculation is to be found nowhere but in your tools of analysis. Your racial reductionist methods cause you to ignore the class interest of the leading layers of the party. Their interest is not in liberating black people, nor any poor and exploited people, but with positioning themselves to be able to plunder resources and accumulate wealth. First propagated in the creation of a “patriotic bourgeois”, and implemented in the BEE, the programme to build “black industrialists” is rather a class commitment than a racial commitment. The commitment to their class project and creation of black industrialists come at the expense of the five radical and strategic demands you have highlighted.

Instead of challenging the EFF to commit this political blunder, if not political suicide, the EFF must be challenged with breaking with the “imperialist agenda” not by playing into the hands of any imperialist party, but strengthening the organisational capability, unity and morale of the black working class and poor majority. To do this will require taking to the streets to fight for the five demands you have put forward, rather than hoping to receive them on a silver platter from a pact with the devil.

The independence of the working class is very crucial at this moment. We are at a moment when, in the absence of the mass party of the workers and the poor on a socialist programme — which must educate the people on monopoly capitalism, racism, etc — the masses have been searching for an alternative clear about one thing: rejecting corruption, poverty and mass unemployment. The DA is merely an accidental beneficiary of this development.

This election outcome does not represent a surge in support for the DA whose overall national support has not increased significantly and which made only small inroads into the ANC’s traditional voter base. The main feature of these elections is that masses have turned their backs on the ANC. The DA itself could not win a single metro outright apart from Cape Town. Those who voted for the 1652s did so to punish the 1912s. This is a shift from a frying pan to the boiling pot. It reflects a lowering of consciousness among the most downtrodden layers. Nonetheless, the masses will learn from experience. There is no fundamental difference between the DA and the ANC on economic policy – they are equally committed to neoliberal capitalism. The DA and the ANC have their historic origins in different sides of the racial divide. Today the ANC and DA stand on the same side of the class barricades against the working class.

This vote is a demonstration that the patience of the masses had run out. There is a burning anger at this neoliberal capitalist ANC government that is bent on looting, that is soaked in corruption, under which inequality, mass unemployment and poverty have increased. Even the EFF itself has, at least so far, stated that forming such a coalition with the ANC would be to smuggle it back into power through the back door. This is exactly what you are proposing.

It is the absence of a mass revolutionary alternative that enabled the DA to benefit from disillusionment and anger towards the ANC. The task is to build a mass workers party on a socialist programme. DM


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