The following article was first published in Proletarian Revolution No. 47 (Summer 1994).

South Africa: Black Liberation Betrayed

South Africa’s first all-race elections are complete, and a new ANC-led Government of National Unity is in place. But most partisans of the long and heroic anti-apartheid struggle are left with a bitter taste in their mouths. The agreements made between Nelson Mandela’s ANC and F.W. de Klerk’s National Party always meant that these elections would be undemocratic and would allow an effective white veto over the inevitable ANC-led government. But the elections did not even live up to these perverted and unjust “democratic standards.”

Before the voting, Mandela and de Klerk adopted a constitution and election regulations designed to make it impossible for the ANC to govern without day-to-day approval from the National Party. All opinion polls suggested that the ANC would receive around 60 percent of the vote, so de Klerk and Mandela agreed to a law making endorsement by two-thirds of parliament necessary for any change in the constitution. They also agreed that for five years, every party with over 5 percent of the vote would receive a seat on the supreme decision-making body, the cabinet. In this way, the old apartheid parties as well as the counterrevolutionary Inkatha were guaranteed an effective veto power.

South African capitalism’s mainstream Business Day (May 28, 1993) bluntly summed up what this deal means:

... South Africa will remain the last country in Africa with entrenched white power. Whites will not rule, but they will effectively share power in a cabinet where major decisions require consensus, giving whites an effective veto.

But the polls underestimated the desire of the Black masses to put into power the party they look to as theirs – the ANC. Polls in the first days of the April elections showed a steadily increasing percentage of ANC votes, indicating that the ANC would just exceed the two-thirds necessary to give it unrestricted power. With formal agreements and guarantees having proved not enough to maintain the power of the white capitalists, the most blatant electoral fraud was adopted – and was approved by the ANC leaders!

The Rigged Elections

The grossest electoral fraud was in the Natal/KwaZulu region. Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the leader of the Inkatha movement and the dictator of KwaZulu, had agreed to run in the elections only weeks before they were held. No political commentator expected Buthelezi to win, and with good reason. Buthelezi has never had the support of the majority of the Natal/KwaZulu population, relying for his power on the financial support of the apartheid government and the reign of terror conducted by his death squads and official police. His support dwindled even further during the negotiations, as he was openly associated with the right wing of the apartheid bureaucracy. He even joined with the Afrikaner neo-fascists in the so-called Freedom Alliance, advocating among other things the creation of a whites-only state.

In fact, in the lead up to the election, there was much talk of a popular uprising overthrowing Buthelezi. After a civil servants’ strike set off an uprising which toppled Lucas Mangope, the dictator of the Bophuthatswana “homeland,” there was a swelling sentiment in Natal to do the same to Buthelezi. At a meeting in Natal just days after the overthrow of Mangope, COSATU Vice-President George Nkadimeng reflected the ranks’ militancy when he said that if the people could overthrow Mangope in Bophuthatswana, “Why can’t we do it here?”

There was a tremendous potential for a mass mobilization against Buthelezi, but this was a great threat to the ANC’s plans. If the masses thought they could overthrow oppressive regimes, what about the future “Government of National Unity”? Moreover, Buthelezi’s slaughter of ANC supporters in the townships and migrant workersʼ hostels has been an indispensable part of the ruling class’s strategy. A serious fight against Buthelezi and Inkatha’s violence would have forced the ANC to break off the negotiations and undermined efforts to form a coalition government. (For analysis of Inkatha and the township violence, see Proletarian Revolution No. 42.)

So Mandela offered Buthelezi a “silver bridge” over which to retreat and join the elections. Buthelezi accepted, and it soon became clear the payoff was a guaranteed win in Natal/KwaZulu. Buthelezi’s “victory” was the result of naked fraud. As the New York Times reported (May 6):

Internal reports sent by electoral poll-watchers to the commission in Johannesburg detailed scores of ballot boxes from mysterious origins, thousands of unaccounted ballot papers, and witness reports that monitors were ordered to leave polls in Mr. Buthelezi’s jurisdiction.

Having had many electoral monitors chased out of the province, Buthelezi’s Inkatha functionaries stuffed fake ballot boxes with votes for Inkatha, “assisted the illiterate” at polling stations by marking the electoral cards for them, and sabotaged polling in pro-ANC regions. So pronounced was Inkatha’s fraud that the electoral commission declared that in some areas, 850 percent of the electorate had voted!

Low level ANC officials immediately protested the results, and official observers called for an annulment of the vote. But in spite of all this, after secret negotiations between ANC, National Party and Inkatha leaders and the electoral commission, all quickly declared the Natal elections “free and fair.” They admitted numerous and widespread “irregularities” but denied any evidence of significant fraud.

The electoral commission chairman initially denied that the election results came not from the voters but from secret political agreements. But after a couple of days he could no longer deny what was obvious. Under the headline “Were the Vote Totals Cooked?” Newsweek magazine reported:

The nation’s top electoral official admitted that the final voting margins resulted at least partly from backroom negotiation ... “Let’s not get overly squeamish about it,” said Johann Kriegler, chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission. The parties, he said, “are in a power game with each other, and if they want to settle [claims of vote fraud] there’s nothing wrong with it ethically or legally.” (May 16.)

London’s Financial Times (May 10) not only acknowledged that the elections were a fraud but approved:

Perhaps that was just as well, for it gave the political leaders the excuse to do their own kind of reconciliation: sharing out power more as they thought the voters ought to have done, than as they probably did; providing what one political insider called a “designer outcome”... .

Top ANC leaders supported all the moves to give de Klerk and Buthelezi an effective veto over the new government. Bourgeois commentators explain this by pointing to Mandela’s commitment to end the violence in Natal and elsewhere. But the move will increase such violence by leaving those responsible for it (Inkatha, the NP’s police and defence forces, and even white fascists) with entrenched power.

And Mandela had an even more cynical reason. He made it absolutely clear that the ANC did not want to win the two-thirds majority in the parliament, and explained why:

I feel very relieved we did not get the two-thirds majority, because already tensions were building up that we were going to write our own Constitution. (New York Times, May 7.)

That is, the ANC wanted to avoid sole responsibility for the government and constitution; that way it would have no excuse for not putting into effect the demands of the black masses – redistributing the wealth of society, eradicating unemployment, building schools and hospitals, crushing the instruments of counterrevolutionary violence, and the like. Mandela stole from tens of thousands of blacks votes which they had struggled and suffered for and for which many more had died, and handed them to the National Party and Inkatha in order to sabotage the demands of the masses.

Mandela’s comment points to the essence of the negotiations process and the new Government of National Unity: the bloc of Mandela’s ANC with the Nationalists and even Inkatha against the struggles and demands of the masses of black workers and poor. Only a revolutionary Marxist analysis can explain this and chart a course forward in the struggle. (See “South African Revolution in Danger” in Proletarian Revolution No. 44 and “Black Workers vs. ANC” in Proletarian Revolution No. 46.)

The Government of National Unity

Now the ANC has to hope that after all the suffering and struggle against apartheid, the masses can be forced to accept a “democratic exploitation” by a ruling class obscured by a haze of black parliamentary figures. But the masses threaten to use any democratic gains against the capitalist system itself. They wanted voting rights in order to choose leaders who would alleviate their exploitation and misery through the far-reaching reforms listed above.

This leaves the ANC caught in a contradiction: it must present some social and democratic gains to the black masses if it is to have any hope of reconciling them to a reformed capitalism, but the capitalist system to which it is wedded cannot afford such gains. Thus the black working class is being forced onto the road of its socialist revolution.

Mandela sees the ANC’s greatest task in government as providing a sound environment for capitalist profit-making and investment. He first had to make clear to the capitalists that the ANC will resist the demands of the black masses. During the negotiations, the ANC dropped one after another of the promises of economic justice it had made in its Freedom Charter: nationalization of big industry and finance to enable popular democratic control of the economy, land to the tiller, and redistribution of the wealth of the country.

In fact, enshrined in the constitution is the right of the big capitalists to maintain control of the factories, mines and other property. The ANC has guaranteed the positions of the top bureaucrats who head the state-run industries, and also promises to repay the huge 62 million Rand debt to international banks that was accumulated under apartheid. At Mandela’s urging, the Reserve Bank has been made independent of government control, so that the masses are not encouraged to think they can pressure the new ANC-led government to seize any of its wealth.

Responding to fears that an ANC government means a “communist takeover” and the seizure of the economy by the workers, one of Western imperialism’s leading voices, the Economist magazine (Feb. 5), said “that is nonsense.” It cited the ANC’s chief economist Tito Mboweni, who “declares triumphantly” that in the ANC’s program there is no mention of a minimum wage or nationalization. No wonder a survey of 100 top white business leaders in South Africa by the Weekly Mail showed that 68 percent supported Mandela for president. (U.S. News and World Report, May 2.)

Empty Promises

The ANC’s economic policy is spelled out in its “ʻReconstruction and Development Programme.” This document pledges a million new homes, electricity for 2.5 million households, ten years of free schooling for all and the creation of 2 million new jobs – all while paying back the apartheid debt and not increasing the current budget deficit.

While these policies promise to improve the conditions of the masses, they are no answer to the social crisis. Racist capitalist exploitation has left over 80 percent of the land and over 90 percent of the country’s productive wealth in the hands of the white caste, 13 percent of the whole population. It has impoverished the black masses, leaving half of the black working class unemployed and 3 out of 5 blacks living in rural areas where over 80 percent have no electricity and over 90 percent no working sewage.

Moreover, the crisis-ridden economy cannot even pay for these inadequate reforms. The ANC and its partners know this and understand that the greatest threat to the Government of National Unity will come when militant black workers and the poor mobilize to demand that their needs be met. With a decades-long tradition of struggle, with the continued presence of the fighting organizations the black workers built during that time (particularly the unions) and with huge expectations of the new government, mass struggles against the new government are guaranteed.

Believing they have finally won, the masses now expect a swift delivery of the fruits of victory. Their expectations are tremendously high and, given their years of suffering, their patience is low. The attitude of the more militant and politically advanced workers is one of suspicion and cautious distrust. After the numerous broken promises and capitulations by the ANC in the negotiations, they are wary of the new government and eager to test its character. A significant minority already understand that the ANC has sold out and are searching for an alternative. These explosive conditions will inevitably produce sharp outbursts of struggle. Already Black civil servants have launched wildcat strikes demanding equal pay with their white counterparts; they have been threatened with mass dismissal by ANC provincial premiers.

Aware of the threat, the South African bourgeoisie has been openly debating the coming dangers in the press. Democratic Party leader Frederick Zyl Slabbert commented on the ANC’s demand for a moratorium on strikes:

Mr. Mandela said this weekend that the days of protest are over. “You must wait three to five years before we can really see to it that your needs are met,” he told his followers. I like what he says, but if he can pull it off it will be a first ... . Strikes will threaten a new government. What happens, for example, if the new government says, “We now demand wage restraint” and [COSATU head] Sam Shilowa says, “You can go and jump in the bloody lake, what do you mean wage restraint?” This moratorium on strikes is a unique thing and may not survive. The moment you are in government there is a fundamental difference. How do you raise funds, how to authorize them, how to prioritize. And very soon the rank and file who have been toyi-toying themselves into the future say, “Mandela is the old guard. De Klerk has him under his wing; he has been coopted.” (The Star, April 27.)

More ominously, Business Day pointed to the problems of pressure from below on the ANC’s governmental coalition:

The front, already an unnatural coalition held together only by an opposition to apartheid rule ... will not long survive. It will fractionate ... . The only way the ANC can keep its painstakingly constructed popular front together is through repression. (Quoted in The Organizer, May 1994.)

While the new government will have to use armed repression against any independent workers’ upsurge, it will only do so as a last resort. This is because repression would make clear the class struggle between the government and the black masses and so threaten to stir up greater uprisings.

SACP Key to Mandela/De Klerk Front

Rather, in seeking to subordinate the black workers, the government will rely mainly on the masses’ own leaders to hold back and derail their struggles – just as it did during the negotiations. The key to this strategy is the South African Communist Party (SACP).

The SACP boasts tens of thousands of black worker members and many more supporters. Its leaders are prominent in the ANC’s leading bodies and hold numerous posts in the new government. SACP tops control all the popular organizations from the massive union federation, COSATU, to the township civic associations.

The SACP has long claimed to be for the workers’ revolution and the overthrow of capitalism. But, in the Stalinist tradition, this has been nothing more than an empty promise used to attract the most militant workers and trap them behind the ANC. It has encouraged militant workers to have faith in the ANC’s devotion to democracy, and to see the SACP as the guarantor in the ANC of workers’ interests.

Already, the ANC/SACP “left” leaders have been promising the workers that they will lead a struggle against any sell-out by the ANC. Winnie Mandela declared in one of her last electoral speeches that if the ANC government does not deliver on its promises, “I will lead the fight against my own government.” And COSATU General Secretary Sam Shilowa has spoken of “taking to the streets” if the ANC “moves out of line with us.” (Socialist Action, May 1994.)

Behind their rhetoric, these “radicals” aim only to tie the most militant workers to the ANC when they no longer listen to the promises of the mainstream leaders. They will only split from the ANC under tremendous pressure from the masses, and then they will do so because it is the only way to head off the struggle. Like the ANC’s need to share power with the National Party in order to avoid the black masses’ demands, the SACP needs its ties to the ANC in order to resist the revolutionary-minded workers’ demands for it to lead an independent struggle for working class power.

The Government of National Unity is the bourgeoisie’s answer to the revolutionary threat posed by the black workers. In the tradition of popular frontism inaugurated by the coalition in 1917 between the Menshevik socialists and the bourgeois Cadets against the revolutionary workers in Russia, and raised to new heights by Stalinism’s Popular Fronts with bourgeois parties in the 1930’s (which aborted a series of revolutions), the GNU attempts to bind the workers’ organizations to the bourgeoisie. However, while the Popular Fronts were based upon independent workers’ parties forming coalitions with bourgeois parties, the working-class party in South Africa, the SACP, is present in the government not as an independent coalition member but as part of the ANC.

In this sense, the GNU is to the right of a popular front. The SACP does not dare independently enter into the coalition because it would then be open to its worker supporters demanding that it break with its bourgeois partners. The SACP does not have the strength of a huge and tested bureaucracy and the direct support of a state power as the Stalinist CP’s did in the 1930’s. The populist ANC/SACP role in the new government reflects the weakness of their bloc with the National Party against the workers.

Workers’ Party

The key to the success of the black workers’ struggle will be whether they can break from the grip of these misleaders and find their way onto the road of independent class struggle. At each key juncture during the negotiations, when ruling-class provocations exposed the ANC’s treacherous dealings with the National Party, the militant workers led attempts to break from the negotiations with struggles for general strikes, mass demonstrations and the organization of armed self-defense. But they were held back each time by their leaders’ alliance with the ANC.

The militants’ search for a working-class alternative to the ANC took an explosive leap forward late last year when a conference of the metalworkers’ union, NUMSA, voted for COSATU to break with the ANC and take the lead in building an independent workers’ party. Other unions (including the chemical, transport and catering unions) swiftly passed their own motions echoing NUMSA’s call. (See Proletarian Revolution No. 46.)

Despite this step forward, the NUMSA delegates who voted for the motions, mostly SACP members, revealed an ambivalent attitude toward the ANC. On the one hand, they expressed the desire to free themselves from their leaders’ compromises. But at the same time they accepted the SACP’s stagist line that the struggle for socialist revolution must be postponed until after the “democratic revolution” brings the ANC to power. That is why the same NUMSA conference also supported NUMSA voting for the ANC in the elections.

The struggle for a workers’ party suffered from the militants’ failure to break decisively from the SACP/COSATU scheme of putting pressure on the ANC. The militants’ call for a workers’ party was, for many, a call to push the ANC government to the left. It was a demand by the militants for their leaders to be prepared to defend their class’s interests against an ANC-led government. But the negotiations experience proves this is a dead end: the ANC opposes workers’ independent struggles and will betray them.

These past betrayals, however, could have provided a rich learning experience for the workers had there been a leadership warning of the dangers of the situation and pointing to an alternative to the misleaders’ disastrous strategy. The struggle to build a workers’ party independent of the ANC can now provide a great opportunity for the workers to learn through their own experience how the ANC/SACP blocks their struggle, and that they must begin an independent fight for power with a truly revolutionary leadership.

This can only be done by a revolutionary party built by the most militant, courageous and tested working-class leaders on the basis of a definite revolutionary program. Only if such workers forge a disciplined party nucleus can they fight to wrest the leadership of the workers’ movement from the betrayers. This work cannot be put off for one more moment in South Africa. Trotsky’s summary of all Lenin’s work, between the February revolution of 1917 and the April Days when the workers solidly went over to the Bolsheviks, is a precise guide for revolutionaries in South Africa today:

Separate the party from the masses, in order afterwards to free those masses from their backwardness.

Revolutionary Policy in the Elections

The whole focus of revolutionary policy in South Africa must be to fight for the independence of the workers’ organizations from the bourgeois ANC and its Government of National Unity – and in doing so, prove to the black workers that their current leaders (chiefly the SACP) are opposed to an independent political struggle of the working class.

In the elections, this meant opposing a vote for the ANC. The most basic principle of Marxism is to draw the class line between the working class and the bourgeoisie. The ANC is not a workers’ organization (even though most South African workers’ support it) but a bourgeois party. While it has working-class members, the ANC does not base itself on any workers’ organizations, but on its own independent bourgeois political apparatus. The mass of active working-class support for the ANC is to be found in the SACP, which despite its leaders’ positions at the top of the ANC and its formal alliance with the ANC, is a distinct working-class organization on which the ANC does not dare to base itself.

Through the immediate lead-up to the negotiations, revolutionaries would have continued their propaganda for the SACP and COSATU to break from the ANC, and used any opportunity to agitate for that demand. Revolutionaries would have run their own candidates on an openly communist platform in the elections if they had the opportunity. We would not have boycotted the elections, as did some organizations, like the Azanian Peoples Organization (AZAPO) and the Non-European Unity Movement.

The black masses had a great desire to test out the “democratic” power of their vote, and the only way for them to learn that their vote was in fact powerless was to go through the electoral experience with them. Revolutionaries only call for boycott of bourgeois democratic institutions when they can be replaced – that is, when the masses have lost their illusions in them and are ready to overthrow them and replace them with institutions of proletarian democracy.

WOSA and the WLP

If there had been a clear movement of a decisive layer of workers away from the ANC and towards one of the workers’ organizations running against it, revolutionaries would have advocated critical support to these candidates. The purpose of critical support is to support the workers’ movement towards independent struggle in order to win an audience among them and counter the leaders’ underlying reformist politics. Critical electoral support to a party does not mean political support for its program. Lenin described it as the sort of support a rope gives to a hanged man: it aims to show the workers the political crimes of the leadership and thereby lead then to become its executioners.

This tactical approach at first seemed possible towards the Workers’ List Party (WLP). The main force behind this campaign was the Workers Organization for Socialist Action (WOSA), primarily responsible for the WLP’s program for building a “mass workers’ party.” In the early stages the WLP showed some popular support: it collected signatures, names and identity cards of 13,000 supporters in a two-week period and thereby earned state funding for its campaign.

The WLP was in part a continuation of the movement for an independent workers’ party started at the NUMSA conference last year. We dealt with WOSA’s politics in the last Proletarian Revolution (PR No. 46), showing that WOSA sought to use the workers’ party movement to avoid a confrontation with the SACP and its reformist program. WOSA, in its own words, sees the workers’ party movement as an opportunity for “all socialists” (namely the SACP and those to its left) to “put aside those differences of approach and of historical association” which have separated them in the past. That means accommodation to, not struggle against, the treacherous SACP.

This assessment was sharply confirmed by the WLP.

The WLP failed to raise a real working-class alternative to the ANC. It ran as a left pressure-group on the ANC, giving organizational expression to the militants’ illusions in the reformabilty of apartheid capitalism through the ANC. In putting forward the slogan “Socialism Is Democracy,” WOSA/WLP adapted its politics to the SACP’s stagist strategy and sustained the myth that socialism can be achieved without proletarian revolution and a workers’ state. The seriousness of the WLP’s campaign must also be questioned, especially since their primary candidate was on a speaking tour of the United States at the time of the vote!

Officially, the WLP received only 4100 votes, well below the number of signatures it had collected, suggesting that the vote was possibly tampered with by electoral officials. In the end, it appears that many workers decided that if the task of the moment is to push the ANC to the left, then the thing to do is vote for the ANC to give it the two-thirds majority needed to rewrite the Constitution. For these reasons we withdraw our previously announced tentative critical support.

Since the elections we have learned that a tiny group, the Workers for the Recreation of the Fourth International formed shortly before the elections, received 5500 votes. As of now we lack information to evaluate this result and the WRFI’s program. Most importantly, we don’t know whether this vote indicated genuine motion by workers toward class independence. And we don’t trust the politics of the WRFI’s mentors, the British Workers Revolutionary Party (see “Healyism with a Human Face,” PR 37).

In the Namibian elections of 1989, the WRP’s affiliate there ran in a bloc with a bourgeois formation, the UDF, in order to keep SWAPO, the main bourgeois-nationalist party, from getting a two-thirds majority. (See Proletarian Revolution No. 36.) This maneuver was undertaken by the WRP because of SWAPO’s Stalinist backing – plus the unprincipled idea that workers can fight Stalinism by crossing the class line.

Socialists for the ANC

The elections provided an acid test of all those groups to the left of the SACP which claim the banner of revolutionary Trotskyism. The Marxist Workers Tendency is aligned with the Militant Labour group in Britain. The MWT operates as a faction of the ANC, holding the perspective of turning the ANC into a revolutionary party of the working class. While the MWT claims to be Trotskyist, by subordinating themselves to the ANC they have violated the first principle of Trotskyism. As Trotsky wrote:

Never and under no circumstances may the party of the proletariat enter into a party of another class or merge with it organizationally. An absolutely independent party of the proletariat is a first and decisive condition for communist politics. (Leon Trotsky on China, p. 403.)

Opposing the movement for a workers’ party because the mass of workers support the ANC and because the ANC “has not gone over to the bourgeoisie,” the MWT argued for workers to vote for the ANC. With its paper’s headline declaring “Kick out the Nats!” the MWT explained:

The elections give us the chance to crush the party of apartheid and dictatorship. Every vote must be used to close the door on the old South Africa. (Congress Militant, February-March, 1994.)

But this exposes the counterrevolutionary essence of the MWT’s program. It was clear well before the elections that no matter how many votes the ANC got, it would share power with apartheid’s National Party. Not only was a vote for the ANC impermissible because of its bourgeois character – it also meant a vote to keep the party of apartheid in power! As against the MWT, revolutionaries understand that the ANC’s role is to save the “old South Africa” of capitalist exploitation from the struggles of the Black masses.

Another pseudo-Trotskyist group that capitulated directly to the ANC was the International Socialists of South Africa, co-thinkers of Tony Cliff’s International Socialism Tendency worldwide. The ISSA also opposed the workers’ party movement, saying that it represented a sure road to a “reformist swamp” – and proposed instead a vote for the ANC! Leading ISSA member Terry Bell wrote:

Arguments to boycott the April 27 election ... equated the liberation movement with the National Party. ... But it is nonsense to equate the ANC alliance, which is based on the hopes and aspirations of the working masses, with a party which is the overt champion of the ruling class. This does not mean accepting or encouraging illusions in either the alliance or parliament. In this particular battle, the working class is lined up behind the ANC alliance against the NP. (Work in Progress, February/March, 1994.)

However, with his own words Bell proves that in voting for the ANC the ISSA is creating illusions in the ANC. The ANC alliance is not based on the hopes and aspirations of the masses in the way that the ISSA implies. Rather, it relies on its ability to limit the struggles of the black masses: otherwise, the National Party would not be negotiating with it. The ANC is really based on fighting at every turn the hopes and aspirations of the working masses.

The ANC is a bourgeois party: given its dependence on capitalism, in the end it is no less counterrevolutionary than the Nationalists. In these elections the ANC was lined up with the National Party and even Inkatha against the working class. This is the real alliance the ISSA enlisted in.

The Comrades for a Workers Government group, aligned with the Workers International League of Britain, has run far to the left of both the MWT and ISSA throughout the negotiations. It played an important role in the NUMSA conference that voted for the break from the ANC and the creation of a workers’ party, and reportedly initiated the discussions on the left over running workers’ candidates. But after initially supporting a workers’ list, the CWG rejected the WLP and encouraged workers to vote for the ANC.

Explaining the position in an interview in Workers Power, the CWG’s Tony Kgobi explained that regarding the WLP:

The danger is to discredit the project [of building a workers’ party], because then you would go to the elections with a party which would not show well ... . We say we vote for the ANC critically and openly say that the ANC is a bourgeois party. But in this case no one should be indifferent to an ANC victory over the National Party, or Inkatha ... . Because you find that the majority of progressive militants are in the ANC, it is this majority of the militants that you have to get on your side.

In voting for the ANC, the CWG crossed the class line. While they say they are supercritical of the ANC, they echo the illusions raised by the MWT and ISSA that a vote for the ANC was a vote against the National Party and Inkatha. It was not possible to vote for an ANC victory, as the CWG says – only for a sharing of power with the apartheid parties.

Moreover, it just is not true that the leading layers of workers that revolutionaries must win are in the ANC. The workers’ party movement last year showed that most of these workers are in the SACP and are fighting for their party to break from the ANC. While most would have voted for the ANC, what was necessary from revolutionaries was the courage to explain that putting the ANC in power really meant power-sharing with the Nationalists and Inkatha – and that this reinforces the need to rally around the demand for the workers’ organizations to break from the ANC and build an independent party. Instead, the CWG lent a cover to the SACP’s campaign to derail the workers’ party movement and restrain the workers to voting for the ANC.

The outright betrayal of working-class principles by the MWG, ISSA and CWG, along with the refusal by WOSA/WLP to sharply counterpose itself to the ANC/SACP, proves that the revolutionary leadership of the working class remains to be built. But the basis is there. The inspiring decades-long struggle of this powerful proletariat has not ended. Forward to the South African section of the re-created Fourth International, World Party of Socialist Revolution!