Two weeks ago, British Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a three-day jaunt across Africa, visiting South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. The purpose of May’s whistle stop tour (aside from showcasing her inimitable dance moves) was to strike up post-Brexit trade relations with Africa’s “emerging economies”. The visit was a cringe worthy affair that saw May shuffle awkwardly from one public relations blunder to the next, and it highlighted the decline of British imperialism and the crisis facing the capitalist class as the Brexit cliffedge looms.
Across the country, workers are mobilising for a mass general strike on 25 April. Although all sectors of the economy are likely to be affected, the strike is expected to hit municipal services, transport, manufacturing, mining, construction and the public sector particularly hard. The government’s determination to continue with the legislative process on proposed changes to the labour law is preparing the ground for a confrontation with the unions.
On 27 February, the National Assembly of South Africa passed a motion on land expropriation, tabled by the Economic Freedom Fighters and supported by the majority of parties in parliament, including the ANC. The motion was passed by 241 against 83 and called for a process to review the constitution and possibly change it to allow for land expropriation without compensation. Parliament’s Constitution Review Committee will conduct “public hearings” to illicit “public comment” and report back to parliament in August. If a constitutional amendment is recommended, it requires the support of two-thirds of members of the National Assembly as well as the support of 6 of the 9 provinces. Even then, the last word would be from the Constitutional Court, which is the highest decision-making body as far as constitutional legality is concerned.
A wave of optimism has swept across South Africa since Jacob Zuma resigned as president of the country last Wednesday. There was a collective sigh of relief that the 9-year scandal-ridden presidency of Zuma was finally over. Middle-class commentators said that a ‘new dawn’ has arrived. But Marxists have explained many times that the crisis facing South Africa is not that of an individual, a single political party nor one section of the ruling class. The political crisis is only an expression of the crisis of the capitalist system as a whole. And as long as the system survives, changes at the top will not result in changes of anything fundamental.
Extraordinary events over the last few days, surrounding the fate of Jacob Zuma, have plunged the ANC – and the country – into a deep crisis. Zuma’s scandal-plagued presidency is clearly untenable for the Ramaphosa faction, which marginally controls the ANC. Moreover, Zuma’s continued presence is destabilising the whole political situation and could damage the ANC’s electoral prospects in 2019. Big business is desperate to dig itself out of a hole. The problem for them is that the balance of forces between the two fighting ANC factions is very even, as we saw at the national conference in December. Now the crisis in the party has put the whole country in political limbo.
Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president in December has coincided with the meltdown of the main bourgeois opposition party: the Democratic Alliance. But while the DA’s fortunes are declining, paradoxically, Ramaphosa’s victory at the Nasrec conference was widely welcomed by large sections of the ruling class, including big business that now feels more secure with one of its own at the helm of the ANC.
The factional fights in the ANC have left its 54th National conference in deadlock. It confirmed what we have known all along – that the organisation is in terminal crisis. It also revealed that the ANC is divided straight down the middle. In the end the leadership tried to come to some sort of agreement. But the effect of this has only led to paralysis. The process could end up in court with the ANC even weaker as a result.
The African National Congress (ANC) is holding its 54th National conference - at the Nasrec Expo Centre near Gold Reef City from 16 to 20 December - more divided than ever before. Tottering on the brink, the party has never been in such a lamentable state, not even in the days of the underground and in exile.
The news of heavy fraud and corruption in two of South Africa’s biggest monopolies has thrown the big capitalists into turmoil. The scandals, which broke out almost simultaneously, involve two global behemoths, Naspers and Steinhoff, and implicate some of the very biggest tycoons in the country, such as Christo Wiese, Markus Jooste and Koos Bekker.
The announcement on Wednesday of more than 3000 job cuts at Sibanye Gold represents a clear attack against the South African working-class. Sibanye announced 2,025 ‘retrenchments’ and 1,350 ‘voluntary redundancies’, i.e, 3,375 job cuts at its Cooke mines in Gauteng and Beatrix West operations in the Free State.