1994, South Africa was capitalist and the entire economy was controlled by
imperialist monopolies who sustained the apartheid regime. Since 1994 the
commanding heights of the economy are still controlled by the imperialist
monopolies. This means
The breaking up and democratisation of these monopolies will open up fresh fields for the development of a prosperous Non-European bourgeois class.
Thus the emphasis of the Freedom Charter is on the development of a black capitalist class as the key to meeting the democratic aspirations of the masses. According to the Cosatu and SACP, the struggle for achieving of the most basic democratic demands of the masses, for jobs, for housing, for education, for health care, etc, should be placed in the hands of a section of the black middle class, the aspirant black capitalists. By workers joining the ANC means to tie the workers behind the coat-tails of a section of the black capitalist class and thus tying the working class to imperialism. The past 17 years is a testimony to this. Every year imperialism still takes out well over R200bn in profits from the country.
The Cosatu and SACP leaders want us to believe that the ANC brought us such great improvements that we should all vote for them again. The few advances that were achieved, came through the mass action of the working class against the system. The ANC and DA governments have held back the demands of the working class for jobs, decent housing, free education, free, quality health care, etc. Both have protected the capitalists who have made massive profits, while the masses suffer greater unemployment, high prices and lack of decent housing. The main difference between the ANC and DA is that the ANC wants the emerging black capitalist class to get some of the crumbs from the capitalists’ table (this is the real content of their ‘National Democratic Revolution’) while the DA wants the capitalists to get virtually everything. The DA lies that ‘coloured’ and ‘indian’ workers will be dismissed- they are really worried that the rich ‘white’ middle class will have to give up a little space to the black middle class at management level (the DA wants the privileges for themselves). The DA bribes workers with R100 and a papsak a day for electioneering. Voting will not bring a fundamental change for the working class- the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. Let us unite as workers against the capitalist system as the Egyptian workers are showing us. But let us take it up to the end. Let us form action committees in every workplace and every working class community, we need a workers party that is independent from all capitalist influences, that unites local and immigrant workers, that organizes workers across the region and across the world; we need to refound Fourth International; let us prepare the ground for a Workers summit of delegates from every workplace (irrespective if you are a member of a union or not) and with delegates from the unemployed, from the rank and file soldiers. Let us prepare the ground for a general strike where, once and for all, the organised working class takes power into its own hands and we end the system of capitalism. Only then can we say that the majority, the working class, will rule. It is only the working class in power that can advance even the most basic demands for jobs, decent housing, free, quality health and education, that can end apartheid once and for all time.
As the Southern African economy is controlled by imperialism, the start of the working class taking power in Southern Africa, kicking out the brutal regimes, in Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Botswana, Madagascar, SA, etc must go forward to the working class taking power in the imperialist centres such as the USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan. The world capitalist economy is inter-connected and the imperialists have kept away the latest scientific knowledge and developments from the semi-colonies and colonies.
Let us examine the life of the worker and see what has happened since 1994 to show how the middle class (whether white or black) has held back the democratic demands of the working class and allies. The only class that has consistently fought for democratic demands, has been the working class. It follows that only the working class, organizing itself independently and taking power into its own hands can lead the fight for democratic demands to its end.
There shall be work (only for some)
number of unemployed has more than doubled (2 million to 4.3 million- narrow
definition). Of those who work, many are casuals and over 2 million work for
labour brokers, without benefits and earning slave wages. Youth unemployment is
over 60%, if not higher.
The promise of a 40 hour working week as outlined by the Freedom Charter, is stamped on by the ANC and DA governments.
There shall be high prices
Sasol produces more than 40% of local oil usage at less than $20 per barrel (if not less than $10), yet it is allowed to sell it at market rates of more than $120. Workers often spend half (sometimes more) of their wages on transport. Yet the real cost of oil is $2 per barrel or less, meaning the international banks, like JP Morgan Chase and the bank of New York, that control Sasol and the other major oil companies, make huge profits out of over-charging the masses for transport. The Cosatu leaders do nothing about this
price has increased by 25% for each of the last 3 years but, despite having a
resolution for a general strike, the Cosatu leaders just sit on their hands. In
fact they justify huge expenses on coal and nuclear power stations by saying
the government should go for longer term loans. This year government debt has
increased to R1000 bn. It is still the worker who has to repay the high
interest loans from the big banks. These banks and construction companies are
controlled by none other than the same
American (also controlled by JP Morgan Chase) gets electricity at less than 20
cents per unit- in effect their electricity is being subsidized by the worker
and unemployed in the squatter camp, who pays the highest rate for electricity.
The Eskom electricity plan assumes that electricity use will double within the
next twenty years. A huge number of companies closed down in 2008-9, and as
business is the biggest user of electricity, this claim by Eskom is false. So
the actions of the Cosatu leaders benefit only the
There are 20 million people in the rural areas who are ‘surviving’ with only 13% of the total income of the country.
The capitalists shall have the lion’s share of the country’s wealth:
The ANC have lowered the tax rate for companies from 48% to 28% since 1994, which means that they have shifted the burden of tax more onto the backs of the working class. The DA are very happy with this.
The government spent over R100 Bn on the world cup while millions live in shacks and 40 square metre RDP hokkies. The Cosatu leaders want us to be grateful for the 2.5 million ‘hokkies’ the government has built since 1994, for 10 million people. The population in 1994 was about 38 million; today it is 48 million, so all they have done is kept pace with population growth. But these 10 million who now have ‘houses’ are still in the apartheid ghettoes- so the ANC and DA have just continued the apartheid areas that the NP created. Further, look at the life of the 4 person family in these 2.5 million RDP concrete shacks. The front rooms of the middle class are bigger than the entire RDP shack. If you are lucky enough to have a separate bedroom built, once you put in a double bed, there is hardly space for you to squeeze into the room. If you are ‘lucky’ enough to have an inside toilet, it is directly on top of the ‘kitchen’ space. If you have 2 children, they either squeeze into the same bed with you or under the kitchen table. If you have a 5th person in the house, perhaps s/he would find space in the bathroom to sleep! Many of these RDP hokkies are so close together that they only have 1 metre in front of them and no space at the back and sides. Residents joke that the ‘houses’ are so small that they ‘cannot even change their minds’ in them.
These are the ‘great achievements’ that the Cosatu and SACP leaders want the working class to be so grateful for. These leaders have nothing but contempt for the working class and fellow poor.
For bigger houses, the working class is expected to take loans from the banks. When workers have debts for water or rates or cannot keep up payments, the government and the banks are quick to evict. The slow pace of building houses and the small hokkies that are built, all contribute to a general desperation among the masses for decent housing- this creates a climate where the banks can charge huge amounts for houses and for rent. The price of housing has gone up by more than 10 times. Thus the ‘housing’ policy of the ANC and DA only really favours the banks.
There shall be hokkies, high loan payments and discomfort for many (the masses). Millions still stay in shacks while the middle class and rich live in security and comfort.
If everyone is unemployed in the house, you have a problem- if you go and buy electricity, the council will take off what they claim you owe for water; or if you have prepaid electricity the council will force you to install a pre-paid water meter under the disguise of an ‘indigent’ policy. Even then they will not reinstate your water until your council debts are paid. For the millions of unemployed, if they can get the R10 to pay at the beginning of the month, they will have electricity for only 6 days (with the free 50 units per month). Thus although more water and electricity connections have been installed, millions have had their water and electricity cut off. Many of these connections have fallen into disrepair and the full figure is hidden from us by both the DA and ANC.
Only the rich shall have human rights
biggest dam (Sterkfontein) in
The people shall only have a small share in the country’s wealth: The economic policies of both the ANC and DA have deepened inequality: The top 1% of earners earn 40% of the total income, while the bottom 40% has to live off 1% of the total income.
Both the ANC and DA manifestos are silent over high prices. While the masses are buckling under with high prices, low wages and huge unemployment, the monopolies are making huge profits:
Even though Pick ‘n Pay moans about falling profits, they still made profits of R1.4 Bn last year; Shoprite made profits of R1.2Bn in the past 6 months; Woolworths increased profits by 26%; Anglo American and all international mining companies made huge profits last year, Anglo made world profits of over R70 Bn; Sasol made profits of R12 Bn; Tiger Brands – R2.7Bn; Parmalat made R1.4 Bn profit in the past 6 months; JP Morgan Chase that controls the Reserve bank and Anglo American, made R40 Bn just in the last 3 months; The Bank of New York that controls many of the gold mines in South Africa, made world wide returns just in last year of $5 trillion, in other words, more than the combined GDP (annual wealth production) of Africa and the entire Latin America combined.
words , what the Cosatu leaders forgot to say is that the working class will get the smallest share while the capitalists will get most of it (including
the increasing fraction of the black capitalists who live off the crumbs of the
master’s table as loan millionaires, completely in the pocket of the
There shall be no peace for the working class
ANC and DA supported the UN resolution to bomb the masses in
The capitalists shall get the best land
Over 1 million farmworkers were dismissed since 1994. The number of commercial farmers have been reduced from 50 000 to 25 000. Monsanto, Parmalat, Anglo American and other capitalists control the best farming land. Land redistribution has been limited to 30% and to date not much of this has occurred. The ANC is protecting the monopolies who control the best land, while the masses die of hunger in the rural areas.
There shall be evictions and no right to occupy land
The Freedom Charter promises that anyone can occupy vacant land close to work; yet both the ANC and DA evict the homeless masses, with the help of the red ants and the police, to the far edges of the cities.
There shall be hunger, starvation and disease
The Cosatu and SACP leaders want us to be so grateful that our pensioners receive a pension of R1140 and that the childhood grant is now R260. If the pensioner buys one loaf of dry bread, electricity just for light every day, one litre of milk a day and pays for transport to school for one child or pays for one person for transport to look for work, the measly ‘pension’ would be up. There is no money for water, transport for the pensioner, or for food, or clothing, or to buy any furniture, or even for going to the doctor. The childhood grant is just enough for one litre of milk per day or one loaf of dry bread per day. The pensioners and unemployed are dying of hunger and preventable diseases, confined to the ghettoes. At the same time the capitalists are making more profits than they ever made in the days of apartheid. These are the great ‘advances’ that the Cosatu leaders say we must be so grateful for.
There shall be privatization of schooling
Thousands of teachers have been retrenched and the state has promoted private schooling by collapsing the little education that there was. Most public schools are forced to charge high school fees to make up for the shortfall in teachers. FET colleges, which are private money making machines to produce more cheap labour, have been actively promoted by the governments. The privatization of schooling and collapse of public schooling is part of a world trend by capitalist governments to increase areas that the big capitalists can make profit from, while at the same time is a form a social control to limit the critical thinking of the masses- the Arts and libraries are regarded as a luxury and have been severely limited. The promise of wide access to the internet at public libraries has largely not materialised.
There shall be no free health care
have become panado distribution centres, where the sick have to wait in queues
for hours before they are seen. Many of the services like X-rays and basic
treatment have been privatized. The Cosatu leaders promote the National Health
Insurance (NHI) which will be another tax for workers to pay for health care,
instead of having free health care. Workers take-home pay will now be 10% less.
Further, this means that workers who do
not have medical aid will be able to go to private health care. All that the
NHI will do is open exploitation of the sick more to the private health
companies- they will be able to make profits from those with medical aid and those on the NHI. The allocation
that workers will get is likely to be limited which means that patients will be
evicted from hospitals after the short period it takes for their health credit
to be used up. The health monopolies will increase their already high fees- a
real heaven for them. In the
The first question that arises is why, knowing the ANC’s record of siding with the big capitalists, does the Cosatu and SACP leaders still insist on calling for workers to support the ANC. Objectively, for the moment, the best mechanism the imperialist’s have of controlling the masses, is the ANC. If the masses were to break from the ANC (and they are starting to do exactly that) the Cosatu and SACP leaders would begin the process of preparing a new way to contain the masses once more for imperialism. (The SACP has started the reformist Democratic Left Front).
The Cosatu and SACP leaders are in a position of privilege which is tied up to maintaining the capitalist system. There has been a whole series of ‘deployment’ of worker leaders (Jay Naidoo, Sam Shilowa, Ebrahim Patel, Alec Erwin, etc)- all of them have accelerated the continued control of the economy by big capital.
A central task has to be for Cosatu to break with the pro-capitalist ANC and SACP; this means that those who continue to support the alliance with the ANC should be removed from all leadership positions. This does not mean that Cosatu should be independent from politics or political parties, on the contrary, Cosatu should align itself with an internationalist vanguard workers party of the Bolshevik type.
An outline of a programme for a Bolshevik party:
It is time
for workers, irrespective if you vote or not let us unite as workers against the capitalist system as the Egyptian,
Libyan, Tunisian, Syrian and other workers are showing us. But let us take
it up to the end. The central weakness in the struggles in North Africa and the
Let us form action committees in every workplace and every working class community, we need a workers party that is independent from all capitalist influences, that unites local and immigrant workers, that organizes workers across the region and across the world; we need to refound the Fourth International; this means that we have to remove the leadership that ties the working class to the capitalists- this means we have to break from the ANC and SACP; let us prepare the ground for a Workers summit of delegates from every workplace (irrespective if you are a member of a union or not, irrespective if you are a local or immigrant worker) and with delegates from the unemployed, from the rank and file soldiers. Let us prepare the ground for a general strike where, once and for all, the organised working class takes power into its own hands and we end the system of capitalism. Our central demand must be for the expropriation of all capitalist (and imperialist) companies and banks without compensation to the capitalists and for these companies to be placed under workers control. Only then can we say that the majority, the working class, will rule. It is only the working class in power that can advance even the most basic demands for jobs, decent housing, free, quality health and education, that can end apartheid once and for all time.
unite with the worker in North Africa, the Middle East, the