The election results show that the field is wide open for a revolutionary working class party
If the trend in national and provincial elections continue, namely, a 73% turnout, then already, the ANC has lost its majority. In 3 years time, they are set to decline further. There are currently 26.3 million registered voters, so a 73% turnout means that 19,2 million people would be voting. In the 2016 elections the ANC just managed 8.1 million votes. In the 2011 local government elections, the ANC gained 8,4million votes. This means that if there was a 73% turnout in elections today, the ANC would only get 42% of the total votes cast. By 2019, this figure is likely to be much less. If there had been a revolutionary working class party started by Numsa in 2013, not only would their support have been in the order of millions, but the ANC and EFF would have declined much further than they already are. The masses are ready to advance but we face a crisis of revolutionary leadership.
The ANC may say that in 2014 they scored 11,4 million votes and that they will once again gain more votes. However, this is not a given, The ANC spent over R1 bn on the elections. They treated it as if it was a national election and still could only gain 8,1 million votes, a 29% drop in just 2 years, or 3,3 million less votes. The drop is even bigger, if we consider that the number of registered voters are increasing each year. We also need to consider that the Constitutional Court has ruled that only those with fixed addresses can be on the voters’ roll.
The ANC is not losing support to the DA and EFF
In the 2011 local govt elections, the DA gained 3,2 million votes and 4 million votes in the 2016 elections. This might seem like a big leap but if we we consider that the DA too considered this election as if it were a national one, putting in massive resources, getting 100 000 paid ‘volunteers’ to help out, we see a different picture. The highest turnout nationally was in the Western Cape, the DA stronghold, with 63% (compared to the national average turnout of 57%). Then we consider that in 2014 the DA gained 4 million votes, virtually identical to the 2016 votes gained. Despite the window dressing of a black leader, Maimane, the masses were not fooled. The DA failed to make any further significant inroads in the working class areas. Their increased support at university level shows that, at least temporarily, some of the black middle class have swallowed their rhetoric. There is limited space from the master’s table for the middle class, thus the white middle class is unlikely to yield its position of privilege to any large measure of the black middle class. Thus the DA has reached its upper maximum and its decline has already set in. The DA will never gain sufficient votes to win an outright majority in any national election. If, it gains a majority, it will only be as a coalition partner, not on their own.The 3 million votes lost by the ANC from 2014 to 2016 did not go to the DA.
In the 2014 election the EFF gained 1,1 million votes. In the 2016 local government elections the EFF only increased to 1,2 million. This shows that the vast majority of the votes lost by the ANC did not go to the EFF nor DA. These masses stayed away.
The #feesmustfall struggles also contributed to many of the conscious youth staying away from voting. The bourgeois analysts describe youth stayaway as ‘apathy’. We reject their conclusion.
No middle ground for reformism
The Cope gained 297 000 votes in 2011 but only 68 000 in 2016. This shows that the masses are rejecting reformist avenues and also points to the pending demise of this party.
African Independent Congress rose from 23 000 in 2011 to 145 000 in 2016. These are ex-ANC members so this growth could be seen as a measure of a protest vote.
The UDM grew from 85 000 in 2011 to 91 000 in 2016. This points to a stagnation of the party as the growth is not significant. It remains an ex-Bantustan party.
PAC declined from 55 000 in 2011 to 30 000 in 2016. It’s breakaway, the APC also declined from 54 000 in 2011 to 41 000 in 2016.
Azapo also declined from 26 000 in 2011 to 10 000 in 2016.
The ACDP declined from 79 000 in 2011 to 62 000 in 2016.
The masses are seeing through the reformist parties. This is reflected in their rapid decline.
Radicalization of the masses- massive shift to the left, combined with a lesser shift to the right.
A slight shift to the right is reflected in the growth of the IFP from 476 000 in 2011 to 637 000 in 2016. However this has to be tempered with the failure of the NFP (A breakaway from IFP) to register any candidates in 2016 due to being late with its election deposit. The NFP gained 318 000 votes in 2011. Thus it appears that a section of this base voted for IFP rather than the ANC in the 2016 election.
The Vryheidsfront+ gained 54 000 in 2011 and more than doubled this to 113 000 by the 2016 elections. This growth also has to be viewed with caution as the VVF+ posed more to the left in order to broaden its base.
Thus the 3,3 million votes lost by the ANC did not go to any parliamentary party. In fact, along with the 11 million people who did not vote although being registered, and the millions who did not even bother to register, there are signs of an increasing anti-parliamentarism. Thus we can see a growing trend in the masses who have seen through parliament and who increasingly regard mass action methods as the path to changing their circumstances. This is a healthy trend.
With all the weaknesses of the recent uprising in Tshwane, it shows the possibility of a generalised revolt coming to fruition.
Imperialism will try to re-invent the ANC, like they recycled Mugabe. This will only bring short-term gain. Like imperialism is trying around the world, with the attempted coup in Turkey, the coup in Egypt and propping up a brutal dictator in Syria (Assad), their fascist option always bring risks that the masses may be pushed onto the path of revolution. Yes they will also tighten up on methods to crack down on the masses, through criminalizing protest, etc but the overwhelming conclusion is that the masses are more than ready for a revolutionary working class party.
The need for a revolutionary working class party
The report by SWOP for the 2012 Cosatu Congress showed that more than 60% of Cosatu members favoured the establishment of a working class party. The 2013 Congress of Numsa went further by actually calling for the alliance with the ANC and SACP to be broken and for steps to form a workers party. This, combined with the mineworkers revolts, the farmworkers and #feesmustfall revolts, all reflect the need for a revolutionary working class party to be formed.
No revolutionary party would go into alliance with the DA or the ANC, just to be part of any level of government. We recall that the Bolsheviks in Feb 1917 refused to be part of the interim government. The mobilised the masses from the outside. Having revolutionary councillors or parliamentarians who continually expose parliament itself is fine, but taking responsibility for the running of a capitalist state means crossing the line, to becoming part of the capitalist system.
WIVP is far too small to be the new revolutionary working class party but it is a challenge to the revolutionaries within Numsa, in Cosatu, outside of Cosatu, in #feesmustfall, in Wasp, in Keep Left, etc, in the worker-youth masses, to urgently begin discussions on a programme for such a party and along with internationalist Socialist revolutionaries, to set up a revolutionary working class party. The masses have long been crying out for it. They are still crying out for it.
To fundamentally liberate women from the yoke of oppression requires a total system change. That would be a rightful continuation of the 20 000 women to marched to the Union buildings to demand an end to the pass laws.
Issued on 9th August 2016
Workers International Vanguard Party/League