Towards a critique of the SACP’s ‘National Democratic Revolution’ and ‘Colonialism of a Special Type’

As Communists, Socialists and working class fighters in Numsa and in the broader workers’ movement debate the question of breaking the alliance with the ANC, it is necessary to critique the main theoretical position that the SACP has used through the decades to justify it. It is also necessary to look at the actual developments over the past 20 years of the ‘National Democratic Revolution’ (NDR) and ‘Colonialism of a Special Type’ (CST) in practice.

This is the first of a series of articles where we will show that the CPSA’s break with its 1921 programme, which went hand in hand with the rise of Stalinism within the party, resulted in a break with Leninism and that the maintenance of capitalist exploitation and imperialist domination of SA and Southern Africa, is a direct result of the notion of NDR and CST that the SACP still regard as their cornerstone.

In Lenin’s ‘The Tasks of Russian Social Democrats’ (end 1897), he comments on the need to support progressive social classes against the reactionary classes:

‘Moreover, the Social Democrats render this support in order to expedite the fall of the common enemy, but expect nothing for themselves, from these temporary allies, and concede nothing to them.’

The SACP gave up on its Socialist programme by making it a task of every Communist to enter the multiclass ANC and to build it. The SACP made a programmatic concession by not fighting for the working class to take power but to put into power a multiclass nationalist movement. In the late 1980’s mass worker locals, street and block committees existed but instead of expanding these grassroots organs into an alternate working class power, the SACP argued that workers energy should be focused on transferring the seats of the NP capitalist government to be occupied by the multiclass ANC leadership. Thus the SACP argued against the working class taking power into its own hands and for the continuation of the capitalist regime, headed by its middle and capitalist class alliance partner, the ANC leadership. This has not been a temporary alliance but a permanent one, since the rise of Stalinism in the 1920’s. ‘White political rule’ or in their words, ‘political CST’ (Colonialism of a Special Type) ended in 1994, but the SACP not only remains permanently embedded in the ANC, but regards ANC government rule as the path to Socialism, with the help of SACP members in it.

In the above-mentioned work, Lenin writes further:

‘While pointing to the solidarity of one or other of the various opposition groups with the workers, the Social Democrats will always single out the workers from the rest, they will always point out that this solidarity is temporary and conditional, they will always emphasize the independent class identity of the proletariat, who tomorrow may find themselves in opposition to their allies of today. We shall be told that “such action will weaken all the fighters for political liberty at the present time.” We shall reply that such action will strengthen all the fighters for political liberty. Only those fighters are strong who rely on the consciously recognized real interests of certain classes, and any attempt to obscure these class interests which already play a predominant role in contemporary society, will only weaken the fighters……..’

The SACP leaders should have pointed out that the ANC support for the struggle against the ‘apartheid regime’ (slave capitalist relations) was temporary and conditional and that upon the fall of the old regime that the class interests of the ANC would turn it against the workers. Not so for the SACP leaders, they kept on justifying that an ANC government would serve the workers’ best interest. The deliberate blurring of the class lines by the SACP leaders indeed led to a weakening of the fighters.

Even further, Lenin, in his ‘Draft Programme of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party’ (Feb-March 1902) wrote the following:

‘The emancipation of the workers must be the act of the working class itself. All other classes of present-day society stand for the preservation of the foundations of the existing economic system’

What Lenin is saying is that the middle class and the capitalist stand for the maintaining of the capitalist system and would only support a struggle if their own interest is threatened, but even then, only for their own interest and not fundamentally against the capitalist system. The SACP in its 2012 Congress document (The SA Road to Socialism) acknowledges that since about 1902 that capitalist relations were existing in South Africa, nevertheless they glorified the birth of the ANC which was based on tribal chiefs. According to Lenin, the tribal chiefs would have stood for the maintenance of capitalism, the middle class and capitalist elements within the ANC would have stood for the maintenance of the capitalist relations in SA. Not so, for the SACP.

Through the 20th century the tribal chiefs, including those of the ANC, were the backbone of maintaining the bantustans as reserves of cheap labour for the imperialist mining monopolies. From 1994 the ANC government have not only sustained the tribal chiefs but have entrenched the unelected tribal councils, maintaining them on the pay of the state; further, the past 20 years of building houses in the segregated ghettoes and ex-bantustans, the ANC government have sustained reserve labour camps for the very same monopoly capital. In other words, not only have the ANC maintained capitalist relations, they have helped sustain pre-capitalist tribal relations that monopoly capital still uses to divide and control the masses.

The SACP claims that it is now a party of ‘governance’, that a party that has deployed thousands of its members into government structures, from Cabinet, to parliament, to provincial and local government, to parastatals, to the police and army. It justifies this step by claiming it is necessary to fight for the ‘hegemony’ (dominance) of the working class on every level of the state. We say that at best the deployed Communists are not exercising ‘hegemony’ of the working class, but are hostages of the capitalist system; at worst the deployed Communists are co-opted, corrupted and have become direct agents of monopoly capital, of imperialism.

This is what Lenin wrote on the subject in ‘State and Revolution’ (Aug, 1917):

‘A democratic republic is the best possible shell of capitalism, and therefore, once capital has gained control (through the Palchinskys, Chernovs, Tseretelis and Co) of this very best shell, it establishes its power so securely, so firmly that no change, either of persons, or institutions, or parties in the bourgeois republic can shake it.’

The deployment of a Nzimande, Cronin or Davies or Montana or even the SACP on its own ticket to the capitalist government, will not shake the capitalist relations.

Colonialism of a Special Type or slave capitalism ?

The SACP’s ‘Path to Power’ (1989), as well as documents before this, describes ‘Colonialism of a Special Type’ (CST) in the following way:

‘In South Africa the colonial ruling class with its white support base on the one hand, and the oppressed colonial majority on the other, are located within a single country.

On the one hand, white South Africans enjoy political power, racial privileges and the lion’s share of the country’s wealth. On the other hand, the overwhelming black majority of our country are subjected to extreme national oppression, poverty, super-exploitation, complete denial of basic human rights, and political domination.

There are significant class differences within  both the white colonial bloc and the oppressed majority. However, the effect of colonialism of a special type is that all white classes benefit, albeit unequally and in different ways, from the internal colonial structure. Conversely, all black classes suffer national oppression, in varying degrees and in different ways.’

This was a direct break from the Marxist notion of the unity of the working class as the driving force of history; it was a break from the 1921 programme of the CPSA which called for white and black workers to unite as its central theme. To the Stalinised CPSA (and its later the SACP), unity with the indigenous middle class and capitalist was placed above that of unity and independence of the working class. It was a break from the Leninist perspective that all other classes, while they may from time to time become temporary allies, have a stake in maintaining the capitalist system (see above).

Completely absent from the definition of the CST is that the dominant relations were capitalist and that imperialist monopoly capital was the ruling class; it was this ruling class that, in its control of the means of production, bought off the white middle class by giving it a small stake in ownership and control of capital and also bought off the white working class through privileges. We say that a more accurate description of the relations existing in SA was that of slave-capitalism where the domination by imperialist monopoly capitalism depended on elements of slavery (eg denial of political rights; denial of freedom of movement; denial of the right to own property; denial of the right to take up certain job categories). Thus, for us, 1994 represented a transition from slave capitalism to free capitalist relations.

The CST posed the problem facing the masses as centrally being getting rid of political rule by the white middle class and replacing it with the rule of the black middle class, deliberately avoiding the question that real power was in the hands of imperialist monopoly capital, not only in SA, but the entire Southern Africa as indeed large parts of the world. CST aimed to get rid of the white managers and to replace them with black managers, but managers nevertheless for imperialism-capitalism.

Before 1994, Anglo American, Old Mutual, Sanlam, Liberty Life and Rembrandt controlled most of the commanding heights of the economy- they still do, thanks to the SACP’s CST.

Colonialism of a Special Type (CST) was part of international Stalinist policy

 In the 1920’s, after Lenin’s death, Stalin directed the Chinese Communist Party to go into alliance with a bourgeois nationalist party, the Kuomintang, using similar arguments that the indigenous Chinese middle class and capitalist class were also oppressed by the British imperialist power. All Communists were directed to postpone the fight for working class power and to join the Kuomintang, which would act as the agency for the ‘national democratic revolution’. When the Kuomintang came to power, they turned their guns on the Communists, killing thousands of them.

Not shaken by this disaster, Stalin continued to direct Communist parties around the world, especially in the colonies, to give up their programmatic independence, and to elevate the indigenous middle class and capitalist class to leader of the revolution. This is the origin of the ‘Colonialism of a Special Type’ (CST) that the SACP clings to until today.

The impact of the CST on the working class struggle

By placing greater emphasis on permanent alliances with the black middle and capitalist class than unity with the white working class, weakened the struggle against the imperialist-capitalist class.

In the decades up to 1994 the white worker fell under the influence of the white middle class, some supporting the right wing, AWB, as well as distancing itself from the organised black working class movement.

Thus the fight against the old ‘apartheid’ regime and the imperialist-capitalist class up to 1994 was significantly weakened. On the one hand, the working class was divided, on the other, the attainment of the demands of the masses was placed in the hands of the black middle class and capitalist class (putting the multi-class ANC into power). Inherent in the policy of the SACP was that the struggle in South Africa would not go beyond capitalist limits as it placed the leadership of the struggles of the masses in the hands of forces that, according to Lenin, ‘stand for the preservation of the foundations of the existing economic system’ .

In its 2012 ‘The SA Road to Socialism’ the SACP argues that while the political form of CST ‘White minority rule’  has ended, there remain CST ‘patterns in the workplace’. This serves as a justification for the focusing of the eyes of the working class on capitalist advancement of the black middle class into management and into the capitalist class. It perpetuates the notion that white workers are reactionary and therefore, according to the SACP, the black middle class and capitalist class are reliable allies, the white workers are still on the other side, the side of the capitalist class.

This is not true- While it is true that 750 000 of the white middle class are still privileged(earning more than R300 000 per annum, and of which 140 000 earn more than R750 000 per annum), 1.5 million white adults earn between 0 and R50 000 per annum. The white working class has largely moved away from the right wing groups (this is evidenced by the lack of support for the AWB and their individual terror actions). A significant number of white workers are still in ex-white unions, like Solidarity, but the big difference is this, the white worker is there based on working class interests not based on middle class demagoguery of the AWB nor of the old NP. The black middle class and capitalist, who have a stake in capitalism, are more reliable allies to the SACP than the 1.5 million white workers.

In the late 1990’s when the white railway workers joined the black workers on strike, all trains in the country were brought to a halt and within 2 days the government had to meet the workers’ demands. This shows the potential of white and black working class unity. This escapes the SACP leaders , who are too busy counting the pennies from their parliamentary privileges and the SACP investment company, Masincazelane Investments.

The SACP redefines the path to Socialism as being the National Democratic Revolution

Lenin in ‘State and Revolution’ writes further:

‘We are in favour of a democratic republic as the best form of the state for the proletariat under capitalism, but we have no right to forget that wage slavery is the lot of the people even in the most democratic republic’….’The replacement of the bourgeois by the proletarian state is impossible without a violent revolution’.

Thus wage slavery is the main feature of democracy and there needs to be a struggle to overcome bourgeois democracy, which Lenin clearly states can only come through a revolution that abolishes the capitalist state and institutes a new workers’ state based on organs of workers power.

The SACP in its 2012 The SA Road to Socialism has this to say about the NDR:

‘The NDR is the strategic  means for maximising the size and coherence of the popular camp and for isolating and out-manoeuvring our principal strategic opponent- monopoly capital and the imperialist forces that underpin it’….

‘The SACP has consistently believed that it is possible and necessary to advance and develop a national democratic revolutionary strategy of this kind that unites, in action, a range of classes and social strata…unless the working class builds its hegemony in every site of power, and unless socialist ideas, values, organization and activism boldly assert themselves, the NDR will lose its way and stagnate.’….

‘Socialism is not some “second” stage after the completion of the NDR. As far as the SACP is concerned, advancing, deepening and defending the NDR will require an increasingly decisive advance towards socialism. Which is why we say: “Socialism is the future, build it now!”’

Thus, for the SACP, the main task is supporting the SA democratic state that is based on wage slavery, is to maintain and build an alliance with the black middle class and the black capitalist class. Further, by flooding this same democratic state that is based on wage slavery, with Communists, is somehow a way to build ‘working class hegemony’ in it. But what the SACP exposes here is that the NDR is a continuous stage to get to Socialism, that is, it is a direct break from the Marxist theory that the capitalist state has to be overthrown through revolutionary mass action in order to get to a workers’ state, which then opens the road to Socialism. No, for the SACP, with active Communists in the capitalist state, gradual reforms will be won until one day we wake up and ‘Socialism’ is declared. This is the real meaning of the SACP slogan: ‘Socialism is the future, build it now’, by reforming capitalism we will reach Socialism. Thus they confirm that in fact their theory is not a 2-stage theory, but a one stage, only capitalism, as Lenin and the struggles of the past century have shown, that unless the working class seize power through revolutionary means, a transition from capitalism to Socialism is impossible.

What has been the class role of the section of the black middle class and black capitalist class that is the alliance partner of the SACP?

Ashman, Fine and Newman report in the Journal of Southern African Studies in 2011 that capital flight, much of it illegal, from SA was about 5.4% of GDP from 1984 to 1993. This flight, increased to 9.7% of GDP between 1994 and 2000, while it increased further to 12% between 2000 and 2007, when it reached a peak of 20% of GDP, or roughly R600bn being taken out, mostly by the mining monopolies such as Anglo American, mostly through illegal means. This is besides the usual declared profits of the mining giants. The ANC govt is fully aware of this but deliberately turned a blind eye to this large scale theft by the imperialist monopolies. The SACP has long been aware of this theft but has done nothing to wage a ‘class struggle’ to assert ‘working class hegemony’ on this matter. A few pennies have been thrown to the ANC leaders to take a stake in the mining exploitation and theft, through an empowerment company, African Rainbow Minerals, while the SACP through its own investment company Masincazelane, have taken a stake in Kameni Platinum mine.

Ex-Minister of Labour and then head of the SA Reserve Bank, Tito Mboweni, whose function was to police capital flows from SA, turned a blind eye and was rewarded for this by becoming Chair of Anglo Gold. These are the alliance partners that the SACP not only defends, but places the development of Socialism in their hands.

Class divisions among all nominal groups have intensified since 1994 as shown by the Gini co-efficient (a number closer to 1 means more inequality, while closer to 0 means less inequality):
















Source: Institute for Futures Research, March 2010

At the same time the numbers of the super-rich among the black middle class is only a tiny fraction. For example, of all the thousands of companies on the JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange), the number of black Executive Directors number 157 by 2008. The number of ‘African’ adults earning more than R750 000 per year number just 30 000 while 19.5 million ‘African’ adults survive on between 0 and R50 000 per year. While trillions are being stolen by Anglo American, much more than they stole pre-1994, a tiny section of the black middle class, less than 0.01% of the black masses have become super-rich, while about 23 million of the masses live off about R6 per day (our calculation, if we remove the figure of the super-rich from the annual ‘African’ per capita income of R9790 or R26 per day, which is itself low enough) [Source: Institute for Futures Research, March 2010].

The world economy, like the SA economy has been stagnating for decades, so how have the imperialist-capitalists bought off a section of the black middle class? In reality the imperialists have taken that part of the economy that was used to buy off the local white and Afrikaner middle class and shared it with the black middle class.

Thus we have, for example, the top BEE company, Sekunjalo Investments, being a partnership with Sanlam. If you examine the Boards of most of the BEE companies you will find that the Afrikaner and Liberal middle class in partnership with the black middle class from the ranks of the ANC (largely). This economic partnership finds political expression in the fundamental agreement between the DA and ANC on core issues of economic policy, such as Gear, Asgisa, the NDP, the youth wage subsidy, the maintaining of labour brokers, etc.

For all the billions that the state have pumped into the capitalist Empowerment, only 3% of the wealth on the JSE is controlled by BEE capitalists. Even this amount is over-inflated as the BEE capitalists are bound hand and foot to big capital as they obtained their shares through loans from the very monopoly capital that was giving them a stake. All these factors point to that the wealth of the land is still in the hands of the imperialist monopolies that were in control before 1994.

The class role of the BEE capitalists

The number 2 BEE company is Adcorp, a highly reactionary labour broker; there are a number of other firms of these type such as JIC mining (mining labour broker run by the Zuma and Gupta families), Safika (which has a stake in Kelly temporary services), Blue Financial services (a loan shark), Mayibuye (a debt collector), Workforce (labour broker) and many others. These companies highlight the role of the BEE capitalists that are the alliance partners of the SACP in government, namely that they serve as a buffer between big capital and the working class. The worker is directed to fight the labour broker not the big capitalist that has hired the broker; the worker clashes with the loan shark and not the big banks that the loan shark is tied hand and foot to.

Thus the BEE capitalist protect the big capitalist from the anger and struggles of the working class. What is worse is that the SACP BEE company, Masincazelane had shares in Bombela, the BEE company that built the Gautrain. The SACP justified this by saying that Bombela was very careful about minimizing uprooting of the masses. This did not hide the fact that the cost of the Gautrain sky-rocketed from the initial R7 bn to almost R30 bn, quite a tidy sum for the SACP for its part from this. On opposition to the Gautrain, the SACP leaders were on the one side with the capitalists and the Cosatu members and the rest of the working class were on opposite sides of the barricades. By the SACP leaders defending their alliance with the capitalists in the ANC, they playing the role of buffer between the working class and big capital.

There is a second role that the BEE capitalists play, namely that they have been spearheading the attacks against the working class. Attacks, that if they had been launched by the old apartheid regime (slave capitalist), would have caused a mass uprising, but now that the BEE capitalists are leading the attack against the masses, the SACP stands as the defender of the capitalists under the guise and banner of the NDR and ‘maximizing the size of the popular camp’.

Here are but some of the examples of the attacks the BEE capitalists have launched:

·         Matemeku, which is chaired by ANC member Moss Mashishi, and which has shares in companies Mayibuye (a debt collector) and Blue Financial (a loan shark), is partnering Austrian company Kapsch to implement e-tolling in Gauteng, something they plan to expand nationally; (Kapsch is also a specialist in satellite surveillance, so their entry into SA will assist in spying on the whereabouts of activists and worker leaders); a number of the Matemeku companies have ANC leaders on their Boards, such as Hilda Ndude, etc.

·         The community of Buffelshoek is having their water resources depleted by the Tamboti Platinum mine that the SACP Investement company has shares in;

·         The National Empowerment Fund (NEF) has supported BUSA, which is setting up private hospitals around the country;

·         WipHold (Women Investment holdings) has shares in pre-paid water and electricity meters;

·         Wiphold has shares in the University of Stellenbosch Business School (one of the most conservative, pro-capitalist institutions in the country);

·         Wiphold has shares in Distell, which is one of the monopolies in the wine industry that is based on super-exploitation of the farm worker;

·         The PIC invested heavily in Curro private schools (public funds being used to promote privatization);

·         Adcorp’s approach is to have the labour law changed to remove the protection from dismissal during strikes; that workers should not be covered by any law during the first 12 months; workers wages should be reduced while they defend high salaries of Directors;

·         The Hluluwe privatization of electricity generation;

·         The NEF have given R33bn towards ‘begin-stage’ infrastructure programme; ie the dirty job of clearing the land of people and other obstacles before Anglo American and the construction conglomerates move in, is given to the BEE capitalist;

On every issue facing the working class, the NDR takes the SACP to be on the side of the capitalists, against the working class

On page 57 of the 20102 ‘The SA Road to Socialism’ the SACP asserts that the National Planning Commission is the embodiment of the ‘national democratic’ developmental agenda.  In other words, the NDP, that the working class rejects as being a plan of big capital, is a product of the SACP’s NDR. On page 70 of the same document, the SACP even claims that the NDP is a direct product of its 2007 programme:

‘In the SACP’s 2007 programme we called for most of these key economic measures. Since 2007 and particularly since 2009 many if not all of these elements have been endorsed in government policy and some are being actively pursued. In particular we single out the New Growth Path, the Industrial Policy Action Programme, the National Development Plan (our emphasis), and the formation of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission and the launch of 17 major strategic integrated infrastructure projects.’

Thus the NDP, which spends R2.6 trillion out of R3 trillion on the electricity scam which benefits Anglo American and the imperialist construction monopolies, is claimed by the SACP as its own. A more damning statement on the class role of the SACP would be hard to find.

While, in the past, the SACP paid lip service to nationalization of Sasol, now they only timidly call for a windfall tax on their profits. In fact nowhere in the SA Road to Socialism is there any commitment to expropriate the commanding heights of the economy and to place them under workers’ control.

On land and housing

The SACP’s Road to Socialism is silent on the question of the land. In the section on the Economy, Chapter 6, there is no plan for tackling the super-exploitative relations on the farms, not even lip service to nationalisation. The agricultural monopolies will be grateful to the SACP for preserving their profits.

The number of black families that depend only on the land for survival is only 13 000, while the white commercial farmers now number 54 000. Thus there has been for some time now a total decimation of the peasantry. It follows that there is a huge rural proletariat, who survive through remittances from migrant workers, from wages and from state grants. On the other hand more than 1 million farm workers have been retrenched since 1994; also there have been a number of the commercial farmers who were forced to shut down; thus there has been greater concentration of the lands in the hands of fewer and fewer farmers. There has also been greater concentration of the land in the hands of international monopolies directly, such as Monsanto and Parmalat. There has also been greater control of the land into the clutches of Tiger Brands and Pioneer.   It follows that the task of the working class is to work for the expropriation without compensation of all large commercial farms, and for these to be placed under the control of the agricultural worker. Such nationalization will not come through the NDR state but through a workers’ state. [We remember in the recent farm workers strikes in came to light that Valli Moosa, Sexwale and others were revealed as having capitalist shareholdings on some of the farms]. By their silence, the SACP aligns itself with the BEE elite that have shares in maintaining near-slave conditions on the farms.

In 1990 there was a backlog of 1.3 million housing units. This has risen to over 3 million. The NDP has no plan to build houses for all; in fact, workers in squatter communities report that the state plans to upgrade informal settlements through generalizing the TRA’s (Temporary Residence Areas like Blikkiesdorp, ie tin and cardboard ‘houses’ are going to become generalised). House prices have gone up by over 400% in SA, the highest in the world, while most, if not all of the banks have ANC members on their Boards. The NDR in housing means that the banks and large construction companies make super profits, while the state builds as few houses as possible, to maintain an artificial scarcity.

Organs of popular power

For the SACP (p46 of the SA Road to Socialism), the expression of the Freedom Charter’s ‘democratic organs of self government’ are community policing forums, school governing bodies and ward committees.

For the SACP, joint structures with the police who are shooting down workers every day at strikes and protests, is an expression of self-government. These forums have nothing to do with self government but everything to do with extending the capitalist state violence into the working class areas and blunting of class hatred for the state that is keeping the means of production in the hands of the imperialist capitalists.

While the imperialist steal trillions, the school governing bodies are agencies of school fee collecting, of hounding working class parents to pay to what should be free schooling. These governing bodies are powerless to force the state to employ more teachers to reduce the student-teacher ratio.

Ward Committees have no power to force the monopolies to pay back what they have stolen; at best they can decide what scraps the state throws from time to time for where a tree should be planted or where a park should be built, hardly an organ of self-government, rather an organ of self-deception.

This shows that the SACP is a stumbling block in the way of the creation of real organs of self-government like the old street and block committees and the workers locals in communities and industrial areas or the workers committees on the mines (which united workers irrespective of union affiliation as well as unemployed community members).

Marikana uprising

The background to the Marikana uprising must be noted, namely that since 1994 there has been more than 300% increase in productivity in SA- this means that imperialism capitalism now extracts its profits at 3 times the rate as that under the old slave capitalist regime.

The NDR in the mining industry meant that a section of the black middle class became shareholders and Directors of mining companies. The state allows trillions of dollars of wealth to be carried offshore by Anglo American and other imperialist capitalists, while at the same time workers are paid low wages, working in hazardous conditions. For decades the NUM leaders held back on workers wages, while directing workers to vote for the ANC, as per NDR directive. The mineworkers revolted against the NUM and Cosatu leaders as they were the main instrument of big capital to keep wages down and keep workers in control.

SACP leader Frans Baleni and ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa, were united in their policy against the strikers- get the police to shoot the workers down. On the 16th Aug 2012, the Marikana massacre symbolised the essence of the NDR, namely that the black capitalist get a stake in control of the masses but when big capital is threatened, then they have to do their duty, shoot down the workers, kill them if necessary, as long as capitalist relations are maintained.

Under the policy of the NDR, when workers rise up again in future, the NDR capitalists will again take the side of big capital. After all, as Lenin said, these classes have an interest in maintaining the existing capitalist order.

Rest of Africa

The BEE tag of the labour brokers, loan sharks and monopolies are helping imperialism expand across Africa. In this way, the super-exploitation of the African masses is being facilitated by the NDR, hardly a national revolution, but a continental counter-revolution. In the DRC, when the warring factions have cleared the land of the people, mining companies move in to reap and plunder. The SANDF has been deployed by the NDR govt to protect the Anglo American mining operations in DRC and elsewhere. The NDR govt is totally subservient to the whims of imperialism across Africa. The mines in SA have always had workers from across the region. Today, Lesotho and Swaziland are still labour camps for Anglo American.

Stalinism had the policy of NDR for Africa, the so-called ‘African Socialism’ which had as its essence the same principles as the NDR, namely that the working class movement had to subject itself to the indigenous middle class and capitalist class, that is, putting them into power as opposed to the working class taking power into its own hands, supported by the broader impoverished masses. In each and every case, across Africa, when the middle class took power in their hands, they proved incapable of moving beyond capitalism, in fact they were bought off for a stake in the continued oppression of the masses.

What is needed is the unity of workers in the region, not only on union grounds but in terms of establishing a single revolutionary working class party; in fact our perspective is for the Union of Soviet Socialist states of Africa. It is only through the working class taking power through revolutionary mass action, that a start can be made on the road to Socialism in Africa.

No National Road to Socialism

Trotsky and Lenin were united in the concept of an international road to Socialism. It was Stalin that introduced a ‘national’ road to Socialism, bureaucratically declaring that there was ‘really existing Socialism’ in the Soviet Union. This was to cover for the fact that the Stalinist bureaucracy made a deal with imperialism for them not to topple the Stalinist bureaucracy in return for the disbanding of the Communist International and the subverting of Socialist revolution on the planet, through policies like the ‘national democratic revolution’ and ‘African Socialism’, which mean that there would be capitalism everywhere and bureaucratic control within the USSR.

During April 1917, Lenin called not only for all power to the Soviets (workers councils) in Russia, but also for the preparation for the foundation of the Third, Communist International. In other words, the conquering of the working class and the setting up of a working class dictatorship on national grounds, only begins to open the path to Socialism.

Stalinism killed off, not only Trotsky, but all the fighters who stood for the policies of Lenin of international Socialism. Lenin said of Trotsky, once he joined the Bolshevik Party in May 1917, that there was no better Bolshevik. Once the imperialist armies invaded Russia from 1918 to 1921 Trotsky was appointed as the leader of the Red army.

In Appendix II of Volume 3 of the History of the Russian revolution (Leon Trotsky), page 1241, Lenin is quoted in 1919:

the work of construction depends entirely on how soon the revolution is victorious in the most important countries in Europe. Only after this victory can we seriously undertake the business of construction’.

On page 1227, Lenin wrote in a farewell letter to the Swiss workers, when departing to Russia after the February revolution:

‘The Russian proletariat cannot with its own forces victoriously achieve the Socialist revolution. But it can…..improve the situation in which its chief, reliable ally, the European and American socialist proletariat, will enter the decisive battle’.

On page 1225, again Lenin is quoted (1905):

‘Once the epoch of the democratic revolution in Russia is past then it will be ridiculous to talk of the ‘united will’ of the proletariat and peasantry…The peasantry as a land-owning class will play the same treacherous unstable role is this struggle (for Socialism) that the bourgeoisie is now playing in the struggle for democracy. To forget that is to forget socialism, to deceive oneself and others about the genuine interests and tasks of the proletariat’.

What is needed is a re-organization of the Socialist and Communist forces internationally, breaking with Stalinism and its national democratic revolution. We need a conference of the left to evaluate the struggles of the past 20 years and more, what went wrong, what would be a Marxist programme that would unite the working class in its struggle for power, not only on a national scale but regionally, internationally. Communists need to break with the NDR and return to independent working class politics. The workers movement needs to break with the capitalist ANC and the SACP’s deception, the NDR.

The past 20 years (the maintenance of the segregated ghettoes, the perpetual housing crisis, the mass permanent unemployment, the thousands of killers from the old regime who are either still part of the state apparatus or in security and or mercenary companies as guns for hire in SA, across Africa, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, etc) proves by the negative the theory of permanent revolution of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, namely that unless the working class takes power into its own hands in the colonies and semi-colonies, the achievement of the most basic democratic demand will not be fulfilled.

We need the unity of the revolutionary Socialist activists and groups on a Marxist programme in a new revolutionary working class party.

At the same time we need to guard against the splitting of Numsa and Cosatu. The SACP leaders will lead the splitting of Numsa and Cosatu. In the period from 1990 to 2012 imperialism tolerated a united and strong Cosatu as it was tied to the NDR capitalists. Now that 65% of Cosatu favours a break from the ANC and the formation of an independent working class party (as the recent survey by CASE and the Foundation for Public Dialogue shows), imperialism would want to weaken and divide Cosatu. We need broader working class unity, inside and outside of Cosatu. We support the calling of a Special Congress of Cosatu to kick out the NDR pro-capitalist leaders, breaking the alliance with the ANC. We further need a Workers Summit to unite the broader working class forces inside and outside Cosatu, to discuss an action plan and unified set of demands, to prepare the path to the attainment of these demands.

We call for grassroots discussion forums to be set up as part of the preparations to the Special Congress and the Workers Summit. Workers International Vanguard Party is prepared to work with all progressive working class forces towards the attainment of the above.


WIVP 1st Floor, Community House, 41 Salt River rd, Salt River, 7925. Ph or sms 0822020617 email; website: ; we are also on facebook as Workers International Vanguard Party WIVP