On the fall of Zuma
The revolutionary period of 1980 to 1993 was partially defeated by the negotiated settlement whose cornerstone was the maintenance of capitalist relations. The negotiated settlement was based on the protection of private property. By 1994 Anglo American directly controlled more than 50% of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange shares. Imperialism maintained its control over SA through the settlement.
By 2007 there was the beginning of large scale revolts against the failure of the ANC-SACP-Cosatu regime to meet the democratic aspirations of the masses. The SACP and Cosatu leadership were able to turn the revolt into a parliamentary dead-end through a change in leadership of the ANC presidency. Vavi and Nzimande toured the imperialist capitals to win support for a Zuma presidency.
Since 2007 the world economic crisis has deepened and there has been a period of sustained attacks on the gains of the working class. This has gone hand in hand with the loss of support for the ANC within the workers’ movement. This loss of support was increasing since 1994, with each class battle that occurred.. In the 2016 local government elections, not only had the ANC lost majority support in a number of key cities but overall, its support is now less than 50% of those who voted. This means that by the 2019 national elections, if the trend continues, that the ANC would only be able to rule with alliance parties outside of the ANC-SACP-Cosatu. There is the prospect of a right wing alliance taking power, in the form of DA-EFF. However both DA and EFF have been losing support. All parliamentary parties are losing support.
The 2012 Marikana massacre demonstrated that imperialism has a crisis of leadership. The ANC-SACP-Cosatu is unable to control the masses on their behalf any more. Since 2012 there have been revolts on the farms and a sustained revolt on the universities for free education and an end to casualization. The revolt at the universities has been weakened but is still alive. It has forced the state to concede free education for first year students , which will be increased to all students. This is a reflection of the deep crisis of legitimacy faced by the ANC.
On a political level, there has been the 2013 conference of the metalworkers union, Numsa, which had resolved to break with the ANC and SACP and to form a broad workers’ united front and a workers’ party. Faced with a prospect of the entire Cosatu breaking from the ANC and SACP and forming a new workers party, imperialism caused Numsa to be expelled, weakening the project for a workers party. However, the leaders of Numsa have also delayed the process to the formation of a new workers’ party and have presented a draft which is based on the nationalist Freedom Charter, the programme of the ANC. There is scope however, to challenge and amend the programme.
The unfulfilled demands of the working class has been reflected in a split to the left from the ANC, which resulted in the formation of the Economic Freedom Fighters, EFF.
The crisis of imperialism and the stagnation of the world capitalist economy has meant more attacks on the masses and increased hatred for the ruling ANC. This increased hatred for the state has once again been diverted into an electoral channel but with a much deeper crisis. The removal of the President Zuma identified him as a scapegoat for the attacks by imperialism. The deep crisis of leadership is reflected in the choice of the new President who was directly implicated in the Marikana massacre. Imperialism faced a huge problem if the ANC split: who would control the working class on their behalf? This is why the change of President was handled in this way, through resignation and maintaining the unity of the ANC. This means that they will only make a show of going after smaller fish but the Zuma faction will not be prosecuted or will not face any harsh measures that would force a split.
The world capitalist crisis remains; all ruling parties in SA are forced onto the path of further attacks on the masses, further privatization, further exploitation.
It should be emphasized that by definition, the existence of decaying capitalism and domination by world imperialism, that mass theft from the working class in SA and the rest of Africa and the neo-colonial world, will intensify. The Journal of Southern African Studies reports that each year the theft by imperialist mining companies amounts to at least R200 billion each year. Compare that to the less than R10 billion which Zuma group stole and we can see that his removal has nothing to do with fighting corruption but about the state regaining face so that large scale theft by imperialism can continue. The message from imperialism to the ruling party is that they can steal but not too much. Imperialism is buying stability through a change in leadership. However, 2018 is not 2007. There is a deeper loss of support among the masses for the ruling party.
Imperialism would love to limit the programme of the Numsa-led workers party to a variant of the Freedom Charter, in essence a programme of the co-option of the working class leadership into the capitalist relations. This should be combatted at all costs.
The rise of the independent Water Crisis Coalition is a sign of an independent working class movement that can possibly lead a resistance to the privatization of water, which is being attempted by the state. For the first time, forces of Cosatu and Saftu are united with grassroots committees. The WCC is however contested terrain as there is also a significant presence of the middle class, who would only be prepared to fight up to a certain point.
However, more significantly, the field is wide open for the rapid development of a revolutionary working class party. The Zuma group may be weakened but it is not destroyed as a faction. The resignation speech of Zuma warned of being a watchdog for radical economic transformation and that he regarded the moment as similar to when Mbeki removed him as Vice President- this implies that he will work on the ground to stage a comeback. However, imperialism has adopted his programme of free university education and of selective land expropriation. This is to neutralise his base. As the infighting within the ruling party continues, the scope for the development of a revolutionary working class party and for independent working class formations increases.
If imperialism goes ahead with their social experiment to turn off the taps in Cape Town, there will be a revolt that no force on earth can stop. It is this threat of revolution that forces imperialism to back down on their threat of turning off the taps but they are still pressing ahead to attempt to privatise water through large scale desalination plants and the imposition of prepaid water meters. There are a number of other attacks such as limiting the right to strike that are also being prepared.
Marikana, the mine workers strikes, the farm workers revolts, the university revolts were limited in scope but the moment is nearing for a generalised revolt. The Azanian spring is about to arrive.
The revolts in Zimbabwe, Cameroon and the DRC are all signs that the spring uprising will spread across Africa. We need to link up with workers across Africa, in other neo-colonial countries and in the imperialist centres. Imperialism controls Africa and we can only be free if the working class in the imperialist centres unite in struggle, with us.
The formation of a revolutionary International, for us, the rebuilding of the Fourth International, is what is required.