Has the EFF presented the Left with a Revolutionary Moment?

A Reply to the EFF

By Weizmann Hamilton

In the October 2015 (no.42) edition of the left magazine, Amandla, Economic Freedom Fighter deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, bemoans the “Failure of the Left to seize the revolutionary moment presented by the EFF” warning that this “might inhibit the struggle for socialism”. Under the sub-head “Theoretical purity leads to isolation from the masses” comrade Shivambu argues that the mistake NUMSA and the United Front will make will be to “self-characterise as super revolutionaries, with the utmost ideological, political and theoretical clarity on everything confronting South African society and the world.”

He forecasts that NUMSA and the United Front, “like WASP in SA and Popular Unity in Greece … will end up in bookshops and coffee table discussions and analysis of the balance of forces, yet with no real voice in society.”

In support of his assertion that the “EFF has always tried to unite the Left” Shivambu claims that the EFF could not establish a working relationship with WASP “due to the fact that WASP has a controlling relationship with an organisation somewhere in Europe, and made unreasonable demands such as “50% of all public representatives to be exclusively WASP members.”

We will deal with the question of the relationship between theory and practice in a separate article. Here we wish to set the record straight on the collapse of the talks between WASP and the EFF and to answer the EFF’s challenge to the Left on unity and on the “revolutionary moment”.

 

The WASP/EFF Talks – the facts

The claim that we demanded 50% of all seats is quite simply false. It is an invention by the EFF leadership to distract attention from the facts. WASP’s proposal was that we register a joint EFF/WASP entity with the Independent Electoral Commission which would campaign on the following platform: (i) nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy under working class control and management (ii) free education (iii) free healthcare (iv) the election of all representatives subject to the right of recall (v) the limitation of the income of all representatives to that of the average income of a skilled worker. The EFF proposed the addition of two of their Seven Pillars including expropriation of the land without compensation. WASP agreed to this.  The formula for the distribution of seats would be discussed once the proposed joint entity was registered.

We further proposed that WASP and the EFF, whilst campaigning jointly on this platform, would retain their separate identities, party organisation and activities. We further proposed to arrange a series of fraternal debates amongst our respective members. This was to enable us to narrow the differences between the parties, and to give the membership of both parties the opportunity to decide which of our positions on a range of important matters of difference were correct. In our campaigning the EFF accepted our invitation to appear on the platform, for example during our victorious campaign in support of the Johannesburg hawkers after they had been thrown off the streets by the ANC-controlled City of Joburg.

After our first and only meeting, it was agreed that we would report back to our structures, exchange documents and have a follow-up meeting. The EFF did not respond to inquiries for a further meeting. We followed this up with an Open Letter to the EFF membership, sent a message of congratulations upon the EFF’s launch in Rustenburg and a second Open Letter. None of these was acknowledged or responded to.

This was disappointing but not surprising. In the meeting the EFF made it clear that it did not “do coalitions”. It counter-proposed that we second two members of our leadership onto the EFF central command on condition that they put forward only EFF positions irrespective of whether they contradicted WASP positions. This would have meant that WASP leaders would be obliged to support the dictator Mugabe, who remains in power illegitimately, by violence, intimidation and electoral fraud as the Kampempe Commission has found, and whose hands are dripping with the blood of 30,000 Ndebele people slaughtered in the Gukhurahundi massacre in the 1980s. We would have had to endorse Malema’s visit to Nigeria to seek the blessing of the corrupt Pastor Joshua where over 100 died (including 80 South Africans) in the Synagogue Church of All Nations that collapsed after building regulations had been flouted in its construction. The EFF further demanded that WASP members should join the EFF and that we should campaign in the election as the EFF. The EFF was in effect demanding the political liquidation of WASP in what would be called in the corporate world a ‘hostile take-over’.

 

Has the EFF presented SA with a Revolutionary Moment?

In an article in which the plumage of the EFF’s sense of self-importance is on full display, Shivambu claims that it is the biggest Left party in Africa, whose establishment has presented a “revolutionary moment” in SA. The EFF could do its political health a great deal of good by substituting the bombast on which it is feeding itself, with a sense of proportion and acquainting itself more closely with the meaning of the phrases from its dictionary of left-wing phraseology.

It is not political parties that create “revolutionary moments”; they are created by the class struggle – by the actions of the masses in conflict with the ruling class when their willingness and self-confidence in their collective strength inspires them to rise up in revolt and challenge for power. Such moments do not endure indefinitely amongst other reasons because in the conflict between the classes the balance of forces fluctuates in accordance with the capacity of the working class or the capitalist class to gain the ascendancy. The duration of such moments is determined, amongst others, by the presence or absence at the head of the masses, of a party steeled in the ideas of Marxism – with yes, theoretical clarity – and an understanding of strategies and tactics to overthrow the capitalist state and construct in its place a workers’ democracy to commence the socialist reconstruction of society. It requires in other words, the confluence of the objective and subjective factors to consummate the revolution.

The EFF’s rather dismissive, if not contemptuous attitude to what it regards as WASP’s pre-occupation with clarity in matters of theory will incline it to disregard our views on “revolutionary moments”, the role of parties, that of the masses and the relationship between them. But perhaps they will take more seriously what Trotsky, leader alongside Lenin, of the greatest event in human history, the October Russian Revolution of 1917, has to say on the subject.

In the preface to his magisterial History of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky points out that “the most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events. In ordinary times the state, be it monarchical or democratic, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business – kings, ministers, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists. But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create by their own interference, the initial groundwork for a new regime. …The history of revolution is …first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.”

There is no doubt that the EFF’s election campaign caught the mood of sections of the oppressed masses in the country. The EFF’s impact is reflected in its over 1.1m votes – an astonishing achievement for a party less than a year old. It is also indisputable that the EFF’s performance in parliament has shaken the ANC to its core particularly through its #paybackthemoney campaign. The parliamentary ANC’s rallying around Zuma to defend him against corruption allegations in the face of overwhelming public sentiment has not only inflicted severe damage on the ruling party; it has also deepened the ANC’s internal crisis and, along with it, that of its Alliance partners. It has also damaged the credibility of parliament, revealing that far from it being the pinnacle of the achievement of the so-called ‘National Democratic Revolution’, it is no more than a stage for political theatre where the interests of the economic and political elite are managed under the pretence that they are concerned with the interests of the people.

But in politics one must have a sense of proportion. It is of course true that the divisions in the ANC are at least as deep as they were pre-Polokwane and will deepen even further with the new succession debate ahead of its elective conference in 2017. The worst case electoral outcome its scenario planners were factoring in for 2014 – falling below 50% of the vote – cannot be ruled out in 2019. The capitalist class’s attempt to create a reserve party in AgangSA ended in a spectacular failure. The DA has had a black leader foisted on it in a palace coup dictated by its big business financiers in a desperate attempt to appeal to the black electorate but remains deeply divided despite its increased vote in 2014. There is a pervading sense of crisis in society and a steady draining away of electoral support for the ANC. The disillusionment is reflected in a mass abstention in elections on the one hand, and unprecedented but completely uncoordinated number of service delivery protests on the other. Despite the EFF’s spectacular vote, the level of abstentions increased in 2014. That the EFF vote was no larger than that of Cope in the 2009 elections in far more favourable conditions, shows that the EFF did not convince the abstainers that it offered a genuine alternative.

Lenin outlined four main conditions for the development of the socialist revolution. Firstly, splits and divisions amongst the ruling class and its political representatives are necessary. Secondly, the middle class needs to be vacillating with a significant section of it supporting the revolution. Thirdly, the working class needs to be organised and clearly willing to struggle – putting itself at the head of the revolutionary process. Fourthly, a mass revolutionary socialist party with a clear leadership is necessary with broad support for its ideas amongst wide sections of masses – especially the active layers of workers. (Where now for the Iranian revolution? Tony Saunois, CWI (www.socialistworld.net, 22/06/2009 – website of the committee for a workers’ international)

Lenin said of revolutions that they demonstrate two things. The first is that the people cannot go on being ruled in the old way. The second is that the rulers cannot go on ruling in the old way.” This is not where we are today, nor where we were in 2012, much less on the day the EFF was launched. It is the music of the future.

Trotsky continues: “The masses go into revolution not with a prepared plan of social reconstruction, but with a sharp feeling that they cannot endure the old regime. Only the guiding layers of a class have a political programme, and even this still requires the approval of the masses. The fundamental process of the revolution thus consists of the gradual comprehension by a class of the problems arising from the social crisis, of the active orientation of the masses by a process of successive approximations…

“Only on the basis of a study of the political processes in the masses themselves can we understand the role of parties and leaders, whom we are least inclined to ignore. They constitute not an independent, but nevertheless a very important, element in the process. Without a guiding organisation, the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam not enclosed in a piston box.  But nevertheless what moves things is not the piston or the box, but the steam.”(emphasis added)

The implications of the EFF’s rather loose understanding of the concept suggest that its gaze is fixed firmly on its naval and not on the masses. It seems to believe, moreover, that it is the embodiment of the “revolutionary moment”; even that its lifespan corresponds to that of the EFF itself – a notion that is, to say the least, delusional. Even if we were to accept this cavalier language of self-aggrandizement, we would have to point out that it is not the EFF that created the “revolutionary moment” but the “revolutionary moment” that created the EFF. In fact the EFF’s understanding of the events that gave rise to its own birth reflects a view that belittles the role of the masses in general and the mineworkers in particular.

 

The political significance of Marikana

The period following Marikana did not constitute a “revolutionary moment” in the sense that the conditions for a mass insurrection and the challenge for power existed. It would be far more accurate to say that what was created by the uprising of the mineworkers in Rustenburg in 2012, the Marikana massacre, and the profound changes in consciousness this produced amongst mineworkers and the wider working class, were the conditions for the establishment of a mass revolutionary workers party. Along this chain of events the mine workers strike evolved from a wage revolt into a political uprising against the mining bosses, the ANC government and its allies in the Tripartite Alliance.

The ANC had revealed itself as a conscious agent of the mining bosses and the wider capitalist class willing to use the state – the armed bodies of men (and women) to adapt Frederick Engels’ definition – to settle accounts with the working class on behalf of the bosses in a bloody show of force. The ANC government’s actions burned away the illusions that had tied the masses to it. That illusion – that it was the party representing the class interests of the working class and the poor — suffered a crippling blow from which it has not recovered. How rapidly the ANC declines will of course depend not only on the speed of its own inner degeneration, but on the urgency with which an alternative – a mass workers party – will be created to fill the vacuum that has developed to its left. This vacuum developed incrementally at first in the preceding period. Since Marikana which was the tipping point at which the accumulated quantitative changes in consciousness became qualitative, that vacuum has become even more acute.

The mood of the working class after the Marikana “moment” could have left an even greater imprint politically had, for example Cosatu called a general strike in support of the mineworkers. A call for the formation of a mass workers party from Cosatu would have found a widespread support. But the mineworkers uprising was actively opposed by both Cosatu and the SACP who both organised what could have resulted in a bloodbath – the bussing in of workers to “take Rustenburg out of the hands of counter-revolutionaries” that is the independent strike committees and the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM – one of the founders of WASP).

Although the mineworkers strike spread from the North West to Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Northern Cape, and inspired the farm workers in the Western Cape into action, it would be a gross exaggeration to say that this constituted a “revolutionary moment” in the sense that it posed the possibility of an uprising against the state and the overthrow of capitalism. The mineworkers were in conflict not only with the government and the capitalist class a whole but with the official leaders of the organised labour movement.  The rest of the working class looked on in sympathy with the mineworkers and were even enraged by the massacre, but there was not even a spontaneous generalised movement of the working class. The launch of the EFF was in reality one of the aftershocks of the Marikana earthquake registering lower on the political Richter Scale than NUMSA’s break with the ANC at its Special National Congress in December 2013.

Until 1996 when the ANC adopted GEAR (Growth Empowerment and Redistribution) policy, the DSM had operated as the Marxist Workers Tendency (MWT) of the ANC campaigning for a mass ANC on a socialist programme. From the ANC’s adoption of GEAR, the MWT recognised that this represented the conversion of the ANC into a conscious party of capital and that a collision with its working class electoral constituency was inevitable in the future. The MWT abandoned the tactic of orientation towards the ANC, and began to function as an independent formation. Anticipating that events would demonstrate to the working class the antagonism between their interests and those of the ANC, the MWT established the DSM and campaigned for mass workers party on a socialist programme.

Marxism, as Trotsky explained, is the science of perspectives, providing the advantage of foresight over astonishment. As long ago as 1994, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party, the England & Wales section of the CWI, predicted, in his pamphlet, From Apartheid Slavery to Freedom, that a time would come when the ANC would turn its guns on the black working class. No-on could have foreseen that this would happen at precisely 15h17 on the 16th August, 2012. But foreseeing that the working class would come to understand the irreconcilability of their interests with those of the pro-capitalist ANC could have been, and was foreseen, by the DSM.

The DSM therefore took steps to give the conclusion workers had drawn organised political expression. Over a series of meetings between the DSM and the strike committees, beginning in December 2012, the national strike committee agreed to back WASP which was launched on Sharpeville Day, March 21st 2013. By August of that year the EFF was launched, followed in December of the same year by NUMSA’s historic Special National Congress (SNC) which resolved to break with the ANC and SACP, to form a United Front, a Movement for Socialism and a workers party. It was the mineworkers uprising that gave the class struggle a sharpened political edge after Marikana and produced the change in consciousness of the working class in general preparing the conditions for the subsequent decisive changes on the political landscape.

The Economic Freedom Fighters were at that stage no more than a vociferous opposition group announcing itself to the world with left wing demagoguery. Its soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief, Julius Malema, was in fact initially resistant to the idea of stepping outside the ANC and forming a party. We believe it is no exaggeration to say that the launch of WASP and its registration as a political party acted as a catalyst in the political process that unfolded subsequently with the launch of the EFF and the character of the resolutions adopted by the NUMSA SNC.

In the election itself, WASP performed below expectations partly because the EFF was propelled into prominence by the considerable resources that came its way from donors with deep pockets. This in all likelihood, included aspirant black capitalists and not its members. With the considerable help of the media, the EFF was elevated into the most prominent left opposition to the ANC. Nevertheless WASP was the first party to emerge to the left of the ANC in the post-apartheid period with a revolutionary socialist programme. This fact cannot be erased from history. The catalytic role it played in placing socialism in the main stream of the electoral campaign, and sharpening the ideological contours of the debate in NUMSA, was the historical justification for its launch. It is by this criterion – its ability to act as small cog able to turn the big wheel of broader historical processes – and not so much the number of votes it received, that WASP must be judged.

 

Socialism, internationalism and the EFF

The EFF’s claim that the talks broke down because WASP is “controlled by an organisation somewhere in Europe” is not only factually incorrect, but exposes the shallowness of its understanding of internationalism. Socialism is international or it is nothing. Anyone who does not understand this does not understand the first principle about socialism. The EFF delegation might have muttered about European control under their breath amongst themselves, but certainly never raised the issue in the talks. Had they done so, we would have set them to rights on the character of the international they are referring to, the Committee for a Workers International.

As it happens WASP is not a section of the CWI – only the DSM, its founding affiliate is (though as of February 2015 WASP has expressed its intention to affiliate to the CWI). We will not comment on the insulting suggestion that we are “controlled” by any organisation. The DSM is proud to be an affiliate of the CWI which has close to 50 affiliates across the world on every continent. Our international comrades are not unsavoury characters, enemies of democracy and oppressors of the working class like the Mugabes or this world, or those preying on the poor for their self–enrichment like Pastor Joshua – one of the five richest religious leaders in Nigeria working in close collusion with the corrupt oligarchs that rule that country.

Our comrades are the Nigerian CWI affiliate, the Democratic Socialist Movement, which has successfully met all the onerous conditions for registration of the Socialist Party of Nigeria which was launched in November 2013. This included the electoral authorities raising of the “processing fee” to Naira 1million as soon as the SPN announced its intentions to register. Our US comrades are Socialist Alternative (SA). SA has just managed to get Kshama Sawant – dubbed by some media as “the most dangerous woman in America” – the first socialist to be elected into office in the US in over 100 years, re-elected without accepting a cent from corporate donations.

She was elected on the principle of a workers representative on a workers wage and takes home only $40 000 of her $120 000 salary – the remainder going back to the party to support working class struggles. Comrade Kshama was elected on a campaign for a minimum wage of $15/hour. After her success in getting the Seattle Council to adopt the policy, the $15Now campaign has become a nationwide movement with a number of cities implementing it. In the Republic of Ireland one of our leading Socialist Party MPs, Paul Murphy, is facing trumped up “kidnapping” charges for leading a mass campaign of non-payment of water charges as the government tries to implement privatisation. By July 57% (860 000 out of a total of 1,52m households) were refusing to pay. A similar campaign is underway by our comrades in Northern Ireland

 

Syriza betrays Greek working class; the EFF endorses Syriza as anti-imperialist

Who, besides, Mugabe and Pastor Joshua, are the friends of the EFF internationally? It turns out to be Syriza in Greece which the EFF describes as “anti-establishment and anti-imperialist”. The EFF maintains this position months after this party, elected on an anti-austerity programme, had committed one of the most monstrous betrayals of the Greek working class in modern history.  The savage austerity measures imposed on the Greek masses by the imperialist troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund have resulted, according to the former Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, in the worst depression anywhere since the 1930s. The economy has contracted by 20%, debt is up to 174% of Gross Domestic Product, unemployment has increased to 30% (60% amongst youth), wages are down by 30%, and the masses have experienced a decline in living standards so catastrophic that the country now has one of the highest suicide levels in Europe.

The Troika demanded the Syriza government pile even more misery onto the backs of the Greek working class by cuts in the minimum wage and pensions, privatisation, household debt repayment polices that would lead to increased house repossessions and homelessness, and attacking the right to strike. All of these measures, to force Greece to repay a debt created by the Greek oligarchs and recognised by even the IMF as impossible to settle, were part of conditions to enable to qualify Greece for even more loans plunging it into even further debt – conditions so punitive that it turned Greece into a virtual colony. Syriza responded by calling a referendum on whether it should accept the Troika’s demands, and recommended the people reject the Troika’s demands.

An energised working class gave Syriza a 62% mandate to reject the Troika’s demands – nearly double the size of its vote in the general elections. Within less than a week Syriza capitulated to the Troika’s demands, becoming handmaidens of European imperialism in the enslavement of the Greek masses. This is the party the EFF defends against Popular Unity (UP) which split from Syriza in disgust. We hold no brief for UP or the incurably sectarian Greek Communist Party. But the split in the face of such treachery was entirely understandable and certainly stripped Syriza of the mantle the EFF had draped across its bowed shoulders as “anti-establishment and anti-imperialist.” On Thursday, 19th November, the Greek working class embarked on its 41st general strike since the austerity offensive began 5 years ago, this time against the Syriza government. On which side of the barricades would the EFF have stood?

The question is why did Syriza, having been elected on an anti-austerity programme, end up betraying the people by implementing an even worse programme than the one they had asked the people to reject? The reason is that the Syriza leadership is not socialist. It does not understand that the impasse in Greek society can be overcome only by the overthrow of capitalism, by placing the commanding heights of the Greek economy under the democratic control and management of the working class.

This was the choice the Syriza government faced – to repudiate the debt, nationalise the banks, break from the Euro and issue its own currency. Once they had embarked on this road they would have had to proceed with the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy, the dismantling of the capitalist state machine, the construction of a workers state and commencing with the socialist reconstruction of society. But Syriza was never a revolutionary socialist party. Its leadership has no confidence in the working class or socialism. In fact in the words he used in an article in the British Guardian last February, Varoufakis, an academic who calls himself an “erratic Marxist”, said it is the job of Marxists “to save capitalism from itself”!

Thus when the Syriza leadership was faced with the choice to submit (to European imperialist tyranny) or fight (for the overthrow of capitalism) the Syriza’s leadership turned their back on the working class and bowed before the European bourgeoisie. Syriza’s capitulation and betrayal stem, apart from the middle class composition particularly of its leadership, directly from a lack of theoretical clarity. It regarded the class struggle not as a life and death conflict between two opposing social forces with irreconcilable interests, but as a misunderstanding that can be resolved over a cup of tea.

This betrayal had repercussions across Europe. It disappointed the working class of Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Britain across which countries there is a growing determination to resist austerity. As our analysis in an accompanying article on the evolution of EFF’s economic policies will show, along the current trajectory it would, in similar circumstances, become SA’s Syriza.

 

A mass workers party an urgent necessity

To conclude with Trotsky once again: “The different stages of a revolutionary process, certified by a change of parties in which the more extreme supersedes the less, express the growing pressure to the left of the masses – so long as the swing of the movement does not run into objective obstacles. When it does, there begins a reaction: disappointments of the different layers of the revolutionary class, growth of indifferentism, and therewith a strengthening of the positioning of counter-revolutionary forces.”

All analogies are lame. We have quoted extensively from Trotsky not because we believe there are exact parallels between the situation Trotsky is describing which applies to the period between February and October in the Russian Revolution; far from it. We cite Trotsky to learn from his method, his understanding of the role of the class, the party and the masses, the relationship between them and the rhythm of the revolutionary process.

The curve of the struggle is currently in an upward direction. The leading layers of the working class are further to the left than its most radical spokespersons. There is amongst the leadership an ideological conservatism, and consequent underestimation of the potential in the situation to make far more rapid advances towards the creation of a mass workers party on a socialist programme than the pace they have set allows for.

The EFF’s approach to the question has been to proclaim itself in advance as the standard bearer of the Left and wants unity with the Left on its terms, marching according to its loud drumbeat. It has treated the rest of the Left with disrespect including NUMSA, which has a specific political weight and revolutionary potential far in excess of the EFF’s.

Unfortunately NUMSA itself has let important opportunities slip. NUMSA’s failure to accept our invitation to take its rightful place inside WASP during the election campaign period was a disappointment not so much to the WASP leadership, but to the working class as a whole. There were wide expectations, reflected even in the media, amongst NUMSA’s own members who have tremendous respect for WASP and who see in our party a far greater ideological and political compatibility with their outlook than the leadership is prepared to acknowledge and who were perplexed as to why comrade Jim would say on television when asked pointedly whether Numsa would support WASP, answered that there was no workers party in SA. Even more regrettably, the NUMSA leadership’s approach has seen the UF paralysed, ideologically disoriented, politically rudderless, and incapable of fulfilling its primary mandate – to unite the struggling working class masses outside the labour movement uniting in common purpose with their comrades in the workplace.

The MfS disappointingly appears to be aiming less to serve to unite the Left on a commonly agreed ideological and political basis, but to whip the Left behind Numsa’s ideological line. That line, if the editorial by comrade Jim in the second edition of the online bulletin of the MfS is an indication, points in the direction not of the total rejection of the revisionist Marxism of the SACP but the refurbishment of its ideological traditions and organisational culture. The stubborn adherence to the theoretical concepts of the National Democratic Revolution, Colonialism of a Special Type and the Freedom Charter, point in only one direction – the resurrection of the bankrupt Stalinist theory of the two-stage revolution. The comrades are approaching the question in the manner of political prisoners freed from incarceration in the SACP, but voluntarily returning there as ideological re-offenders. What the situation demands is not a Herstigte SACP, but a mass workers party on a socialist programme.

The student rebellion is an indication that if the revolutionary process finds no outlet in the ideological cul de sacs of either the EFF or NUMSA, it will find another outlet. Much has been made of the success of the EFF’s march on the JSE. But more sober estimates suggest that the sea of red represented considerably lower numbers than frightened media pundits suggest. Whatever the case may be on the numbers, the truth is that the EFF became airborne that day not so much on the thrust of its own engines but was lifted by the slip steam of the student revolt.

Of far greater significance is that the student movement occurred completely independently of and bypassed both the EFF and NUMSA. The search for a mass workers party will find expression elsewhere if the EFF and NUMSA turnout not to be pathways but obstacles to it.

All the ingredients of a social conflagration are present to bring SA to the cusp of enormous social and political upheavals. The economic crisis is worsening as the country edges towards the fiscal cliff bourgeois economists have been warning about. Enormous counter-vailing pressures are being exerted on the fiscus for rising expenditure from nuclear power stations and presidential jets on the one side to demands for free education and decent wages for public servants on the other. Yet there is a budget deficit edging closer to the 4 – 5% that could trigger a downgrade of the economy by rating agencies that would worsen the country’s credit-worthiness, and result in the steady outflow of capital turning into a flood. The drought and even the possibility of famine in some parts of the country as thousands of cattle die; the possible collapse of the steel, engineering and mining industries; rising inflation, a weakening Rand, anaemic economic growth, a widening current account deficit and escalating government and personal debt – all these together are providing the explosive material for a social conflagration.

The bosses, acutely conscious of the ANC’s decline, would have no hesitation in discarding it like a squeezed lemon, or assist a split in it as they desperately look for an alternative force on which to rely to protect their interests including a coalition. What an irony it would be if such a bourgeois coalition were to include the EFF. As the accompanying article on the evolution of the EFF’s economic policies suggest, its leadership’s policy revisions would, on this trajectory, not be incompatible with those of capitalist class.

Neither the EFF nor NUMSA have their hands on the clock of history. Left unity would help the working class to resolve this impasse provided it is united in a mass workers party on a socialist programme. The need for this has never been greater.


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