South African rulers need new Slovo

THE RECENT scandals which have rocked the African National Congress demonstrate the vacuum that the death of South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo has left in the country.

Slovo filled the vital role for the bourgeoisie of intermediary between the ANC-dominated government and the millions of oppressed workers who yearn for liberation from their poverty and squalor.

He was revered by them for his past leadership of the revolutionary revolt against apartheid and his apparent incorruptibility. At the same time he preached patience and trust in the new bourgeois government and played an important role in helping to create the post-apartheid capitalist stability.

The fall from grace of both Allan Boesak and Winnie Mandela demonstrates that politicians with such a blatant bourgeois orientation are most unlikely to be able to fill such a role. No matter how courageously they have fought apartheid, their lack of any working class orientation means that of necessity they are drawn into the ‘morality’ of profit and the hazy area that divides it from corruption.

Boesak, co-founder in 1983 of the United Democratic Front - the ANC’s legal wing when the party was banned - has been forced to resign from his position as ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. It is alleged that he used money entrusted to him for anti-apartheid campaigning and children’s charities to pay for a luxury house, holidays and family debts.

Winnie Mandela, the president’s estranged wife, has never been one to favour a modest life-style. The latest accusation against her is that she pocketed a donation intended for the ANC’s Women’s League from Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s prime minister. At the same time she has always figured high on the list of working class idols because of her previous uncompromising attitude to the fight against apartheid, and the necessity to employ the regime’s own tactics of violence and terror in order to destroy it.

Last week she criticised the government - of which she herself is a deputy minister - for failing to act on behalf of the black masses. The truth of this is apparent, but she is using the language of populist black separatism to express it. This week, however, faced with expulsion from government and the undermining of her position in the leadership of the Women’s League, she was forced to make a humiliating apology.

Such self-seekers are of no use to the bourgeoisie, but - more importantly - they are worthless in the struggle for working class liberation.

Jim Blackstock