The recent local government election results represent a decisive shift in the South African political landscape. It comes in the wake of years of ferocious class struggle in which all the contradictions of South African society have come to the surface in an explosive way. The result of these elections provides us with a snapshot into this process in which the collective mood of anger, frustration and disillusionment among the masses are the dominant features.
Just slightly more than six weeks ahead of the 2016 Local government elections, the ANC is to battling on many fronts to contain the fallout from a deep political crisis. The party is deeply divided and in its weakest state ever. It is not only struggling to contain the wider social, economic and political crisis, but it is also forced to fight to manage the internal factional battles which is threatening to tear it apart.
At a mass rally in Soweto on April 30th the Economic Freedom Fighters launched their manifesto for the August 3rd local government elections. This was a big event with a sea of red filling Orlando Stadium. For the working class people, the students and the poor who were in attendance, it was an opportunity to listen to Malema’s speech, in which he made the manifesto public.
When arguing the Nkandla case, President Jacob Zuma’s senior advocate, Jeremy Gauntlett, said that this was “a delicate time in a dangerous year, societally” and that the Nkandla saga has “traumatised the nation in many ways”- a profound statement which sums up the current state of mind of the ruling class.
The recent Constitutional Court judgment against President Jacob Zuma is only the latest in a series of rapid-fire events which have shaken South African society fundamentally. From the Marikana massacre in 2012, to the latest revelations, society has been staggering from one crisis to another. The turnover of these events is astonishing. New shocks crop up almost on a weekly basis, and old controversies resurface periodically only to assume new convulsive forms. In the final analysis, this shows that, on a capitalist basis, none of the fundamental problems of society can be solved.
The following is the third part of a draft document which will be discussed at the World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency this summer. The main aim of this document is to define the main economic, social and political trends in the world today and to develop a perspective for the class struggle in the next period. The document was originally drafted in October 2015.
The clashes among the South African ruling class which erupted into the open last December have now turned into open war. The revelations that the Gupta family have offered cabinet posts to various people on behalf of president Jacob Zuma have thrown the ANC government into disarray. This indicates the extent to which corruption has extended itself to the executive branch of government and to the heart of the ANC itself. The fact that private families can decide who serve as ministers in the cabinet shines a spotlight on the rottenness of the scandal-prone Zuma presidency.
For the past several months there have been persistent reports in the media about the possibility of a coalition between the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the main bourgeois opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), at local government level. Now the leadership of the EFF have confirmed that discussions have taken place.
Ever since the fall of the apartheid regime slightly more than two decades ago, there has been an ongoing attempt by the ruling class to construct a Chinese Wall between that monstrous dictatorship and the current regime of capitalist democracy. On the one hand, the method by which old guard of the ruling class aims to do this takes the form of a deception: that apartheid is "over"; that state power is supposedly in the hands of the "majority", that we live in a "democracy" in which the people decide, etc. All of this is a ruse which disguises the fact that because it owns and controls the means of production, the big bourgeois decides the fate of society much more surely than the government alone could ever do.
On Wednesday, 9 December the government of South Africa was thrown into a new crisis when president Jacob Zuma unexpectedly fired his finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with David van Rooyen, a little known ANC backbencher. This decision was so unexpected that neither the ANC nor members from his own cabinet were aware of it. The events over the four days which followed, once again shook the country to its foundations and ushered in a new period in the class struggle.