Break with capitalist ANC
On October 1 hundreds of thousands of workers went on strike across South Africa against the privatisation policies of the ANC, fronted by Jeff Radebe, one of six government ministers who are members of the South African Communist Party. Reporting from Johannesburg, Dale McKinley of the Anti-Privatisation Forum exposes ANC-SACP double talk
For the workers, and the working class community organisations such as the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) that came out in full support of the strike, it has become crystal clear that privatisation strengthens and consolidates the control and ownership of society by the capitalist class at the direct expense of the entire working class. The results, which South African workers and communities have been experiencing on a first-hand basis, are that profits decide the needs and rights of the people, and democracy becomes something to be bought and sold. The target of the strike, the ANC government, has shown, time and again, that it is completely committed to privatisation in all its various forms. It is the ANC government, in class cooperation with the capitalist bosses and multinational corporations, which has privatised basic services, such as water, housing and electricity. It is the ANC government that continues to pursue the privatisation of key public sector utilities. The ANC government's drive to privatise has resulted in hundreds of thousands of workers losing their jobs and millions more having to struggle just to earn a living wage and enjoy decent working conditions. This is the direct result of the 'growth, employment and redistribution' programme. Meanwhile, the capitalist bosses and multinational corporations have gotten rich and fat, taking the wealth that workers produce all for themselves. Now they want to extend this oppression to the entire continent of Africa through the 'New Partnership for Africa's Development'. It is the same privatisation programme of the ANC government that forces working class communities to suffer water and electricity cut-offs and housing evictions. For the APF, the fight against privatisation in both the workplace and in the community is a fight of one class against another: the working class against the capitalist class. Such a fight can never be won if the working class is divided. In South Africa, the ANC government and its capitalist friends are doing all they can to ensure that we are divided. The ANC government has deliberately set out to caricature the legitimate struggles of workers and communities against privatisation as nothing more than misplaced political antics that will hurt the economy and "sacrifice workers' wages and production of the wealth needed to fight poverty". The ANC has attempted to sow division by accusing a so-called "ultra-leftist" clique of misleading workers and communities against the 'people's' government. And the ANC has tried to depoliticise working class struggles by claiming the virtual impossibility of an alternative left political organisation contesting for fundamental political and socio-economic change in South Africa. Despite the blatant fabrication and hypocrisy that is the hallmark of these tactics of division, they will succeed as long as key sections of the working class continue to give political support to the capitalist ANC government, in the vain hope that this will eventually lead to the end of privatisation and to the defeat of capitalism. The failure of the Nactu and Fedusa union centres to come out in full support of the strike only serves to play into the hands of the ANC government and its capitalist allies. Likewise, the continued insistence by sections of the Cosatu leadership that workers can simultaneously support the ANC politically and win the struggle against privatisation and capitalism is at best naive; at worst, political and personal opportunism. The Cosatu leadership must ask itself a simple, yet fundamental, question - who are the real allies of the workers in South Africa? Are they to be found amongst the ranks of a government that revels in its attacks on workers, whilst mouthing meaningless rhetoric about a "national democratic revolution", "patriotism" and "nation-building"? What about the new black capitalists who grow filthy-rich on the backs of the workers whilst hiding behind the smokescreen of "black economic empowerment"? Or are the real allies to be found amongst the very working class communities where workers themselves live and who suffer from, and struggle against, the capitalist policies implemented by the ANC government? Cosatu's strike is a positive sign that organised workers are sick and tired of the cheap rhetoric, endless 'consultations' and political hypocrisy that have been the staple diet of an ANC determined to organisationally contain and politically defeat the forces of the working class in South Africa. It should be quite clear from the events and pronouncements of the last few days that this determination is only going to intensify. What is now needed is for the entire working class to draw a clear class line - politically, economically and organisationally. There are real, working alternatives to this capitalist system and the political and economic forces that drive it. The APF calls upon all Cosatu workers to stand on the left side of the class line so that we can, as a united working class, fight and win. This is the only way we are going to bury the privatisation monster and move forward in our struggles for a new society in which people come before profits and in which the basic needs and rights of the majority are not simply privileges enjoyed by a rich minority. We have suffered long enough. We have been divided for too long. Let us join together and move forward to another South Africa, another world. It is more than a possibility - it is a necessity!