8th International Conference


Contribution of

CPSA(ML), South Africa



Country Report South Africa

First Week May 2004


The government, parliamentary political parties and media such as television and the major commercial newspapers have all in the past few months been pouring out praise for the so-called ”10 years of democracy” which they all depict as a special miracle of peace and stability, a perfect example to the world that a negotiated settlement is the best way to reach a ”win-win” situation that satisfies everyone.

And what could best illustrate this than the April 14th elections 2004 that saw the ANC government returned with a slightly increased majority on the one hand and its defeat of the opposition Democratic Party (DP) in the western cape province and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in its heartland Kwazulu-Natal. In all of this, some major re-alignments in bourgeois neo-colonialist politics occurred. The IFP came out strongly allied to the DP whilst the Nationalist Party and the ANC have become closer with NNP leader Martinus Van Shcalkwyk becoming a cabinet minister in Thabo Mbeki’s government.

Prior to the neo-colonialist elections many people in the mass organisations and individually especially in the youth had expressed their indignation at the ANC government and openly said they would not participate in the coming elections. Why should we vote at all? Why vote for persons we do not even know? Why vote for disappearing councillors who once elected would be unapproachable even going to the extent of relocating to rich suburbs?

So indignant were many people that the dates for registration of voters had to be postponed twice - and eventually after it had been said that registrations were finally closed a person was still allowed to go to a polling station, produce a bar-coded identity document and vote!

In this situation all neo-colonialist parliamentary parties went into mostly slum (shark) townships and other major townships where the poorest people live and made heavy campaigns inviting people to come and vote. If you voted, they said, you would have the power to change things! The south African president and his deputy themselves flew to all corners of the country for this kind of canvassing.

In this election 2004, more than at anytime before, the fact that it was the election by the people for wealth , wealth that controls politics, economy and culture of south Africa, was starkly demonstrated. And because of the bickerings of the neo-colonialist parliamentary parties amongst themselves a lot of information and background to their competitors was exposed.

The monopolies and the big banks openly showed their hand after Thabo Mbeki gave them an assurance publicly that their investments would be safe - that there is nothing to fear because the people of South Africa had the fullest confidence in the ANC.

As elections contributions and as their show of faith in the ANC government, the Standard Bank of South Africa gave out R 5M to be divided up R1,5 M to ANC, R1,5 M to the DP and the rest to be shared between Inkatha, the PAC, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the newly established Independent Democrats led by Patrice De Lille (formerly PAC MP). Then there was a demonstration in Cape Town by  group of supporters by the racist Vryheids Front (VF) against Nedbank wherein the latter’s contribution of R5M was indignantly returned to the bank on the grounds that the ANC had been granted R42m for its campaign. Some of the placards read: ”Sies Nedbank!” These and other episodes served to clearly show as to for whom and who was being given the edge! There can also be no doubt as to the contributions of the international super-monopolies, the mega banks and individuals such as Rockefeller who had contributed R4bn to the ANC before the 1994 elections. And this only for the ANC media work during that time!

In general the South African economy has been underperforming in the last ten years or so even as the government and the economists of the monopoly capitalist institutions are forever wanting to paint a different rosier picture of today and the future. And their versions of economic performance abounds with conflicting pictures because their aim is to serve the ruling classes and confuse the masses and unsuspecting business people who rely on them for dubious forecasts!

Ten Years or so ago every one of the south African economic forecasters was certain that all that was needed was for the economy to grow by 6% annually with inflation kept in single digits and down to about 2%, then the unemployment levels would decrease to the point of full employment nationally. The opposite has happened and the future continues to be bleak.

None other than the neo-colonialist politicians themselves have constantly reminded one another of 500.000 to a million jobs lost in the past ten years - despite the fact that this is an understatement of the decade. With factory-closures in response to cheaper imports, more devious dismissals of workers together with hundreds of thousands in retrenched workers with the collaboration of trade union and federation leaderships infused with the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking that has come with the reactionary ideas of the imperialist globalisation - these together with the fact that practiclly new jobs are nowhere created for school-leavers and for people on the job market, some for more than two decades - the unemployment levels have shot up to more than 40% nationally and 60% and more than 90% in some regions described as the poorest in South Africa.

At the same time the forecasted economic growth is nowhere near 6% as it repeatedly hovers between 1,5% and 2% in the best years according to the same economic experts but itself a revelation that things remain bleak in this most important area affecting the livelihoods of millions of workers and the poor of town and countryside. As for inflation, the strangest of developments are happening.

Mid-way the ten years of this so-called democracy when trade union negotiations more and more made inflation-rates a focal point of all agreements, it was suddenly announced that calculation of the inflation-rates would now be done according to newe international standards. After this, the inflation-rate has stuck to single-digits even as prices of basic food, fuel, transportation-rates, water, electricity and other items whereby the working people are being bled white have continued to sky-rocket!

In line with the reorganisation of international production major efforts on the part of the South African government are afoot to establish Export Processing Zones (EPZ’s) or so-called Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s) as an attraction to foreign direct investors whereby they can reap maximum profits including repatriation of all profits and labour flexibilization that includes the right of the bosses to hire and fire workers at will and no trade union protection for workers whatsoever. This reorganisation of international production also means the movement of whole functions of a multinational corporation to South Africa as is the case with VWSA and its production of cars at ist Uitenhagen plant to the Peoples Republic of China and now to European countries as well.

All these activities of the South African government and its masters in the form of the supermonopolies and their megabanks do not have much impact on the lessening of the unemployment levels because less secure, contract labour is employed in fewer numbers than the more consistent joblosses as a result of the structural crisis of imperialism and lean production on the basis of the reorganisation of international production and recolonization.

The South African neo-colonialist government, its henchmen and the imperialists sell an unrealistic and idealist picture of development of the past ten years in South Africa.

Within this past ten years  or so, already bitter struggles have been waged between progressive forces in general and the masses in the trade unions have been affected while on specific issues, the union-federation leaderships have been compelled to take up positions on the side of the workers particularly against the government e.g. the May 10th 2001 nation-wide march against joblosses.

Most bitter have been the struggles in the civil neighbourhoods, struggles that have given birth to self-organisations in the new democratic mass movement. These are occurring around the issues of electricity, water, housing and land. Already, heroes in the masses have emerged, have been arrested several times and suffered torture at the hands of the secret police some of whom come from the ranks of the special branch of the racist minority regime. And most recently an organisation called Landless People’s Movement (LPM) was openly physically attacked by the South African Police Services (SAPS) to break-up their anti-elections demonstration on elections day April 14th 2004. Some leading activists were arrested and tortured ith rubber and electrification. They have since been released and are suing the SAPS and the policemen and policewoman involved. This case shall be part of more than 240 cases of torture used by the SAPS in the past 10 years and there have been more than 200 cases of assault and attempted murder which have been reported to the Independent Complaints Directorate against the South African Police.

There are on-going peasant struggles as well. These take on various forms and are spontaneous. There are also struggles for trade union recognition and better wages by the agricultural labourers. These take the form of legal battles which often end up in arbitrations or the labour court. There are also anti-eviction cases which the agricultural workers and peasants usually lose on the legal basis of the owner’s or new owner’s claims to legal tenure and so on.

By and large, the student and youth movement is at present dominated by reformism and a widespread reactionary anti- authoritarianism which has buffled many people because of the overall conformity to ill-discipline, substance and drug abuse, debauchery and every negative tendency one can think of against progressive development and the unity of young and old. This negative anti-authoritarianism is daily encouraged and even consolidated by television, adverts, newspapers, the movies etc which systematically and consistently spread and encourage the youth in petty-bourgeois aspirations of all types and to think that imperialism as an political-economic and cultural system is the only alternative for now and the future - in one word the spread of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking.

Even so, the practical realities and hardships such as the ever-escalation of fees of tertiary institutions. and exclusions from study of poorer students have brought clashes between the students and tertiary authorities where quite often the police are called in with the resultant campus violence and the arrest of student activists such has been the case in April this year about one week before the neo-colonialist national elections on the 14th, when the Witwatersrand University (about 2000) students made the university to come to a standstill, demanding lower fees. Probably because of the wish to uphold the 10 years of Democracy pipe-dream and not to serve as a public embarrassment at this time, the university authorities quickly promised to review the fees and other demands regarding the entrance requirements for black students in particular.

Such are the real developments in the past decade of the ANC-led neo-colonialism.

In conclusion the CPSA (ML) is today active in a situation of the following developments:

·        All parties that come from the old national liberation movement against the racist minority regimes e.g. the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan African Congress of Azania (PAC), the Azanian Peoples Organisation (Azapo) have jettisoned the course of national liberation as anti-imperialist, have embraced neocolonialist parliamentarism and are now parties of compradorisation who are prepared and actually serve the interests of monopoly capitalists and their representative institutions at home and abroad.

·        The contradictions amongst the parliamentary parties in South Africa are at present and foreseeable future non-antagonistic as all of them work very hard to make the neo-colonialist order function to the best of their abilities. The competition amongst them is who can best implement the structural adjustment programme (SAP) of the IMF and World Bank – the first of which is the so-called multi-party democracy around which every entrant shall compete for imperialist sponsorship in political campaigns.

·        Despite the humiliations suffered by parties such as the PAC of Azania who hardly won a single seat in the national parliament, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) which was dethroned in its heartland of Kwa-Zulu Natal and its leader ousted from the ANC cabinet – despite this and other developments, there is an alignment of previously unthought-of alliances such as the ANC and New National Party, Inkatha and the DP with a full cabinet post for the Azapo leader. All of this is happening in the background of compradorisation.

·        It has become quite clear in the context of the recent elections that the separation of the masses from their traditionl leaders is not to be overestimated but work in the masses precisely toward this goal needs careful, systematic and consistent work on the basis of the marxist-leninist mao zedong mass line.

·        Recent events have proved the correctness of the CPSA(ML) 3rd national Congress in April 2001 that the following is happening in the democratic mass movement and the civic or neighbourhood organisations:

-         Especially in the townships neighbourhood organisations, the dissatisfaction in the masses (residents) concerning their treatment by the local civic authorities, clerks and councillors has forced the residents to form new associations to champion the struggles against exorbitant water and electricity bills, rates and services bills which include so-called ”tariffs” which no one can explain. The old civic and residents associations are becoming unpopular and are increasingly being seen as only the praise-singers of oppressive government policies which pick-pocket residents. Under the weight of unpopular local government actions, they are breaking up and giving way to more to more militant new democratic civic and resident associations which are forming alliances with the CPSA(ML) on a national political basis and in local struggles against local authorities.

·        The national and provincial leaderships of the congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has been very inconsistent and reluctant to lead workers in struggles against retrenchments, dismissals and even for wages mainly because of their so-called alliance with the revisionist South African Communist Party. Forced by workers, they have made national calls for strike, buckled under pressure from the ANC and confessed that they do not intend to undertake political general strikes and even went so far as cancelling strikes before they happened because of claimed negotiations. Today and during the recent elections, they have come out as the decisive Campaigners and mobilizers for the ANC win in the neo-colonialist elections. And they together with Business South Africa and the government signed an agreement called Programme 2015 by which there would be no destabilisation of ”business” through strikes and other means until the year 2015, after which date there would be unfolded jobs for the millions. ”Give business a chance” is the word that goes around such circles.

·        The South African economy is stagnant viewed from the long-term basis and develops within the parameters of the structural crisis of imperialism and is also conditioned by the crisis of overproduction from which the monopoly capitalists are finding it difficult to emerge. And when talk of growth is being bandied about , this refers mostly to investments in shares in the stock exchange (Johannesburg) and the creation of new millionaires who do the running for the supermonopolies and their banks - the compradorisation of former trade union leaders and former members of parliament including ex-ministers. In such a situation ”job creation” is a mythical phrase!