Boycott 2014 elections or critical support of Wasp?

There are a number of WIVP comrades as well as revolutionaries outside our ranks who are raising the question of support or critical support for Wasp (Workers and Socialist Party) in the 2014 elections.

Some of the main arguments raised for critical support of Wasp are as follows:

1.       The Wasp is the only party standing in the elections that is openly for Socialism and that stands for the nationalization of the mines under workers’ control;

2.       WIVP did not have the resources to contest the elections;

3.       The Wasp approach and their Manifesto amounts to revolutionary parliamentarianism and is an exposure of parliament;

4.       There is no revolutionary situation in the country and the region and thus participation in parliament is compulsory to help expose parliament from within, while supporting the mass struggles on the outside; even if there was a revolutionary situation, then in this case, support for Wasp (or revolutionary participation) is necessary to help dispel the last illusions of the backward sections of the masses in parliament;

5.       Millions still have the illusion that parliament will bring an improvement to their lives and revolutionary participation will help unmask it;

6.       Despite Wasp being opportunist, a call for critical support for them is necessary so that the worker base that supports them will see in practice how the Wasp leadership will betray the masses in parliament; it will also open up the possibility of discussion and working together between the WIVP and the base of the Wasp.

What is the moment in the class struggle in the world?

Over a long period, the traditional leaderships of the masses have implemented the attacks of the world capitalist-imperialist classes against the masses. Since about the beginning of 2011, the masses have begun a world-wide open revolt against parliamentary structures and their capitalist leaders, succeeding in places, to overthrow them but not yet being organised or experienced enough to take power in their own class interests. The Marikana revolt was part of the world process of breaking from the capitalist leaderships of the masses. The imperialist-capitalist classes, have been increasingly reliant on brute force to maintain their control. The Marikana massacre of 16th Aug 2012 was also an expression of this as is the stated policy of the ANC regime for the police to ‘shoot to kill’. The accelerated killings by the police of unarmed protestors in SA since the start of 2014 is also part of the international imperialist policy of brute force to crush working class resistance.

The December 2013 Numsa Special Congress, which adopted resolutions formalizing the break from the ANC and SACP, a plan of mass action towards the nationalization of the mines and towards setting up a process towards a revolutionary working class party to spearhead the struggle for Socialism, could be seen as the highest expression of resistance, on a global scale, of the organised working class against the capitalist system. The Numsa Congress has already begun to make its mark through the 19th March national strike against the Youth Employment Incentive Act, in essence a political strike against the regime.

The opportunist and pro-capitalist nature of the Wasp

While the 2012 mine strike brought into existence mine workers committees that united workers irrespective of union affiliation and members of the surrounding mine worker communities, the Numsa strike brought together organised metal, chemical and farm workers together with numerous community-based social movements and some left groups. Both Numsa structures and the mine workers committees are anti-parliamentary structures.

Turning independent structures of the class into election structures

Due to the inexperience of the leadership of the mineworker strikes, many of the mineworkers split from NUM to join Amcu, a step which DSM supported. Their leaving NUM has strengthened the hold of the ANC and SACP over the remaining members, while weakening the union. A revolutionary class policy would have organised the mine workers to take over NUM to spearhead the breaking of Cosatu from the ANC and SACP. Thus the Wasp and DSM helped turn an independent class formation (the workers’ committees) into an economistic, trade union struggle.

When the DSM started mobilising for the Wasp, a key component was for it to take part in the 2014 elections. We quote from the DSM invitation letter in January 2013 when the DSM was mobilising for the Wasp launch on 21st March 2013:

the Workers and Socialist Party should campaign on a socialist programme to contest the national election in 2014

Thus, while the mineworkers were breaking from parliament, the DSM was turning the eyes of the masses towards it.  The Numsa resolutions and its 19th March national strike turn the eyes of the masses into organization against parliament. Thus the Wasp is in opposition to the revolutionary essence of the Numsa Congress resolutions.

Partnership with the police

In its 2014 Manifesto, the Wasp claims that it is for working class independence and for strengthening the struggles outside of parliament. Yet in its Manifesto, the Wasp calls for ‘genuine community policing forums’. Thus the Wasp wants community and worker organization to form a partnership with the very police that has as its prime function, the defence of private property, the riches of big capital. The Wasp claims that the police are workers and are in need of better training.  We say that many police may have come from working class backgrounds, but once they are become police they are no longer workers. Their class function is daily to battle against the working class and to keep it in check from overthrowing the capitalist class. How can the Wasp lead any struggle for nationalization when they are in partnership with the very police who are shooting to kill in defence of monopoly capital?

Wasp covers up on the imperialist control of SA and the region- they are national Socialists

The Wasp manifesto claims that the ANC leadership is the capitalist class’. This is not true. BEE shareholding is only 3% of the wealth on the Johannesburg stock Exchange (JSE). The ANC govt are merely the local managers for imperialism. The ANC govt have been bought off for a few crumbs from the imperialist master’s table. Most of the wealth in SA and indeed in Southern Africa and Africa, is in the hands of imperialism. The major player in Southern Africa is US imperialism. The Wasp claims that it is South African companies that are spreading across Africa, whereas these companies are merely fronts for imperialism. Why does the Wasp shy away from showing the true relation of imperialism to control of SA and the region? It is because the Wasp is national socialist. Take Sasol for example, a supposed SA company- its shareholding shows that the US banks are the main shareholders. Even the SA Reserve bank, is controlled by JP Morgan Chase, the main shareholder of Anglo American, that also controls most of Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zambia. Thus the struggle for the working class to take power in SA is directly linked to a struggle for the working class to take power in Southern Africa as indeed it is also linked to the struggle of the masses in the USA and elsewhere against US imperialism. SA soldiers are in the DRC protecting the mines of Anglo American but the Wasp wants to give the impression that it is SA companies that are plundering Africa. The Wasp has a nationalist vision of the struggle for Socialism.

Wasp Manifesto is silent on Amcu leaders’ attacks on worker committee leaders

The Wasp wants Amcu to affiliate to it but the Manifesto is silent on the victimization of the ex-mineworker committee members, some members of Wasp, by the Amcu leaders. This is opportunism to get votes from the Amcu base rather than use the election platform to clarify to workers who their real friends and enemies are.

Main Wasp candidate was involved in the corrupt arms deal, tenders, BEE and privatization

The Wasp claims that the fight against corruption is one of their major fights. Yet their first candidate (their ‘presidential’ candidate) is Moses Mayekiso. Mayekiso admitted that he went to Sweden to promote a deal with arms manufacturer, SAAB, in exchange for funding for a training centre in SA. Mayekiso was CEO of Sanco Investment company that was involved with partnerships with ABB (a US imperialist energy company) to form Ilima, to tender for electricity projects of Eskom. Mayekiso had 0.25% shares in Nexus Connexion, a BEE company that was crucial in the privatization of telecommunications and the setting up of Neotel (the second landline operator which still has Nexus Connexion as its BEE partner). In all cases mentioned above, the imperialist companies would not have won their tenders if it was not for the support of ‘big names’ like Mayekiso. How different is the Wasp from the SACP which talks Socialism but acts to advance the interests of big capital?

The Wasp manifesto claims to be against corruption, against BEE, against tenders and against privatization. The DSM is fully aware of the recent history of Mayekiso, yet they still made him the main candidate. Yes, Mayekiso was an ex-Numsa General secretary, but his track record over the past 20 years is a total break from working class positions. So why did Wasp/Dsm do this? How can workers take them seriously about corruption, nationalization, BEE, tenders, when their first candidate was involved in corruption, tenders, BEE and privatization? The reality is that the Wasp is opportunist; the placing of Mayekiso as the main candidate, over the heads of workers, shows that expediency and votes takes precedence over principle.

Lenin writes in State and Revolution that upon the attainment of a democracy, the capitalist class and the middle class lose all their revolutionism. In other words, in the fight against feudalism and the nobility, a section of the capitalist class and the middle class may, from time to time, side with the protests, but once a democratic republic is achieved, the self interest of the capitalist class and the upper middle class takes them over into direct opposition to working class interests. Is this not the case of the middle class leader, Mayekiso, who posed militant before 1994 and once he gained his position of privilege, lost all his revolutionism?

DSM/CWI have a history of reformism and opportunism

The DSM is part of CWI (Committee for a Workers International) that has a history of long term entry into capitalist parties like the ANC and British Labour Party. They have some Members of Parliament in Ireland and other countries. While talking Socialism, they use the fight for reforms to tie the masses to parliament. Yes, any small gain or reform is welcomed but the central task of revolutionary parlimentarianism is to expose the bourgeois parliament, to discredit it and thereby promote the independent organization of the working class outside parliament and against it. While the police are killing the masses, the Wasp argues that they need more training and are even prepared to form joint structures with the police (instead of promoting independent committees of self-defence outside of parliament). The Wasp claims to fight for nationalization but its main candidate has a history of promoting privatization.

So we must question why, when the mineworkers committees were the dominant power on the mines, did they DSM promote the formation of a party to take part in elections? The only conclusion that we can come to is that, consciously or unconsciously the DSM/CWI, when the masses are breaking out in revolt against the system, will play a counter-revolutionary role to contain the fight within the bounds of capitalism.

There are those who argue that despite the opportunism of Wasp, that we critically support it

Giving critical support to workers parties that are supported by the masses but that are as yet not exposed, is possible under certain circumstances, for example if it opens up avenues of discussion between revolutionaries and the worker base and allows the workers to make their own experience so that they eventually come to the realization that their leaders are treacherous. We argue that the manifesto and the choice of top candidate already exposes the nature of Wasp and the DSM. Are there mechanisms to further expose Wasp before the elections? Yes.

Those who believe that Wasp is Socialist or that want to expose Wasp through the election process, should put the following to them:

1.       Remove and denounce the candidature of Moses Mayekiso because of his involvement in the Arms deal, his involvement in tenders and privatization;

2.       Remove the clauses on strengthening police forums and training of the police; call for the formation of independent, armed workers’ self defence committees under direct working class community control

3.       Include in your manifesto a condemnation of the Amcu leaders for their attacks on the mine worker leaders and warn them about their role in isolating the mineworkers struggle for R12 500 from the broader struggle of mine workers and more general demand of R12 500 for all workers;

4.       If, as you claim, you put workers struggles first, why did you not use your R 300 000 +  election deposit as a contribution to the strike fund of the Platinum mineworkers?

5.       Explain clearly how imperialism is the ruling class in SA and how the ANC leaders are their managers (replace the clause that says that the ANC are the capitalist class). Link this to how imperialism controls the region and how the struggles of the working class here are thus inter-connected;

6.       Scrap the clause in the Manifesto which says that ‘Capitalist governments are rarely required to work out some conspiracy to hold the oppressed down’. This politically disarms workers. For example, it is clear that the ANC government conspired with the Lonmin bosses to brutally suppress the strike; in fact their plan resulted in the Marikana massacre and when the masses rise again, the capitalist govt will conspire again. In fact capitalist govts always conspire against the masses. The Intelligence report against Vavi was not the product of a ‘rogue element’ but was the result of a conscious conspiracy by the ANC govt to facilitate his removal.

This is how to further expose the Wasp/Dsm leaders. It is not necessary to call for a critical vote for them and warn of some future betrayal. They have already presented such evidence.

Boycott

But there is another reason why we should not call for any vote for the Wasp: the process to shaping the character of the revolutionary working class party that Numsa workers are debating, is still very open. Why should we strengthen the centre and right wing within the workers movement and that even exists within Numsa, towards an electoral party. A call to vote for Wasp will support this rightward trend that imperialism will latch onto and even support, if it means that the masses will once again be contained as they were contained for many years under rule of Lula’s PT (Workers’ Party) in Brazil. Imperialism is looking for new ways to contain the masses, now their existing horses are discredited- why should we give credibility to the bourgeois parliament?

Thus we would be supporting the revolutionary gain made at the Numsa Congress that:

In 2014, NUMSA as an organisation must endorse no political party whatsoever.’

This clause marks the beginning of a break from parliamentarianism, a trend that we should support with all our might.

In the light of this and of all of the above, we propose that the best course is to call for a total boycott of the elections, to issue our own Manifesto and to continue to support the class struggles outside of parliament.

To those who say there are cases of intimidation where workers may be too weakly organised to resist, we say that we call for a total boycott and workers in those circumstances should do whatever it takes to survive, if it means spoiling the ballot or whatever measure they deem necessary.

5.4.2014    From the WIVP Political Committee workersinternational@gmail.com ph 0822020617