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Monday, January 21, 2008

The Zuma coups: The need for political clarity is even greater

Here's another left analysis of Zuma, this time from Lenny Gentle of Ilrig

Thanks to him for publishing under copyleft.

The Zuma coups: The need for political clarity is even greater
Leonard Gentle, January 2008

The Jacob Zuma take over at Pholokwane precipitated a range of comments and views from various sources. At one end we had the bourgeois media and the rag-tag of South African racists - for whom Jacob Zuma embodies their worst fears of an atavistic rabble placing a new Mugabe into the Presidency – predicted the worst. The recent history of the man – accused of corruption and of rape – his semi-peasant demeanour and poor formal education played into images of darkest Africa and the immanent collapse of white civilization in South Africa. And so after years of castigating Mbeki for his AIDS-denialism and his promotion of BEE this section of the media and the white middle classes suddenly saw that Mbeki spoke well (and good English at that) and that we’ve apparently had the longest period of economic growth ever and that despite the bleating about affirmative action and BEE, we’ve never had it so good. And so Mbeki (for them) became “our Man.”

In the run-in to Pholokwane in the meantime – given the high stakes involved for the filthy rich capitalists and all the beneficiaries of the new order in South Africa’s transition from apartheid to neo-apartheid (from latter day reformed apartheid to neo-liberalism) – many sections of the ruling class began hedging their bets (as did sections of the ANC leadership itself) – managing the possibility of a Zuma victory by cleaning up the man and sprinkling holy water on his past misdeeds (so we were told he is warm-hearted and a good family man and a good listener etc) and yet still having a bitter leadership contest. That is why the contest was conducted in such a bizarre, bitter, but constrained fashion. Mbeki hauled out the cabinet and old-NEC heavyweights to fight careerists and opportunists who had hijacked the ANC from its traditions of self-sacrifice and nobility (which was code for Zuma, except, nobody said so) while the Zuma camp came out with all guns blazing against ….”careerists and opportunists who had hijacked the ANC from its traditions of self-sacrifice and nobility” (which was code for Mbeki, except nobody said so!).

A range of left commentators and activists – Cronin (in 2006), Bond, Ashley, Giyose - have noted and been clear that Zuma does not represent any change at the level of state policies and that the neo-liberal project will continue and in that sense they can refer for confirmation to the ANC-spokespersons and the Zuma camp itself who have been at plans to assure the markets and the ruling class that, as far as economic policy goes, it will be “business as usual”.

This has not stopped Alliance insiders – such as Jeremy Cronin - from closing ranks around the ANC and somehow combining, in his usual way, an assurance to the markets that it will be business as usual with assuring the ANC rank-and-file that the ANC will now be more democratic and carry out Conference decisions in a more inclusive way.

But in all this the victory of the Zuma camp has now thrown up a new anomaly – almost in response to the past media vilification of Zuma and the fact that the white middle classes and their public opinion had so clearly feared a Zuma victory – some non-Stalinist left commentators have come out in celebration of the Zuma victory, as an opportunity for the left to “vuka” (Brian Ashley). Others have pointed to the possibilities opened by the “two centres of power” (Adam Habib) and that the ANC is likely to come under “left pressure” from COSATU and the SACP calling in the debts owed to them by Zuma (Ebrahim Harvey).

One of the more widely optimistic accounts is that of Munyaradzi Gwisai:

“Polokwane must not be seen in isolation but as part of the broader social polarization taking place in SA over the last three or so years and reflected in escalating fights between reformist left sections and neo-liberal sections in not only the ANC but also COSATU and SACP themselves as the Madisha example and the push for a stand-alone SACP show.

The Zuma camp victory is best understood in the context of a general resurgence in working classes struggles and of an artificial anti-poor economic recovery that Claire and Bond have detailed. Briggs is thus correct to argue that the working classes have spoken through the Zuma victory -- 'spoken' mind you and not won!”

Such misconceptions cannot go unchallenged.

The Mbeki-Zuma fight and its place in judging the present period

Brian Ashley, in his short article on the Zuma victory compares this to an electoral victory over a ruling party – except that the Zuma camp is a faction of the same party – and therefore argues that its impact is like:

“An earthquake has hit the ANC. A new leadership has wiped out the Mbeki regime in the ANC leadership race. This is comparable to a landslide victory for an opposition party in a general election. Except in this case the opposition party was a broad coalition of disgruntled elements within the ANC. A period of political instability awaits. The ‘dreaded’ two centres of power has materialised and gives rise to a lame duck President.”

Whatever one’s critiques of bourgeois general elections they do serve as a barometer of working class interest and activity and demand of any left forces that they take this interest and activity into their perspectives on the various candidates and parties and what they represent.

But Pholokwane was not a general election. Whilst the Mbeki-Zuma fight certainly captured the interest of the people … The people were not drawn into the daily electioneering and public political choices that general elections entail. Instead most of them watched it on TV or listened in the radio. They may have been intensely interested but Pholokwane was a symbol of their absence from political engagement rather than an expression of their active involvement. So the comparison with a general election is a loose analogy taken too far.

Of course splits within a ruling bourgeois party, including bruising leadership battles, can take on a much wider significance for the working class – if they are an outcome of heightened class struggles which place intolerable pressures on all parties, even the ruling bourgeois party. We witnessed, throughout the 1970s and 1980s in South Africa, how the ruling apartheid Nationalist Party split into various groupings (Vorster vs. the HNP, the verligtes and the verkramptes, Botha vs. Mulder, De Klerk vs. Botha etc) as its various factions were forced to respond to the increasingly insurrectionary mass movement.

Equally, we can identify instances of how mass struggles are heightened as long-simmering discontent suddenly spills over, precipitated by events within the ruling elite. The recent Kenyan events are an interesting example. The Raila Odinga campaign was one conducted by an ex-Minster of Kibaki’s government, with no programmatic differences between Odinga and Kibaki. In that sense, like Zuma-Mbeki it was an in-house dispute within the ruling elite, as has been the case for the last 20 years of neo-liberalism throughout many parts of the world where the people are asked to vote for candidates who are unified in their commitment to neo-liberal capitalism. But the people had clearly elected Odinga, and, seeing this choice stolen from them by electoral fraud, broke out into led mass action against all the perceived symbols of Kenya’s rotten elite.

In each of these instances the intra-ruling party splits/tensions are significant because they are barometers, indices of processes taking place somewhere else – amongst the broader working class masses.

The problem with the left-Zuma enthusiasts is that they take as their point of departure developments within the state and the ruling party and not the state of the working class movement – its ebbs and flows, its strengths and weaknesses - itself. They therefore want to derive radical campaign possibilities from this (Ashley) or define future options for the left about the political orientation from this (Gwisai).

Zuma’s quest for the Presidency has been obstructed now for some two years. Where were the mass protests before? When he was sacked as Deputy Minister? And, more recently, charged with corruption? Where the expressions of unbridled joy at his victory? To be sure there was joy amongst the shops stewards in COSATU, the ANC and SACP members, but in the last 5 years of self-activity amongst the working class how representative are these?

The Zuma camp and the state of the movements

Patrick Bond correctly speaks about the some 5000-odd incidents of struggles per year in SA – dubbed the service delivery revolts – which have been the key indicator and expression of the state of struggles in SA today. In these struggles a new movement and a new vanguard is being forged whose political identity and programme is still some way off. Layers of activists are learning who their friends are and who they are up against, what forms of organisation are appropriate and what tactics and strategic turns may benefit their struggles and take them forward. In this period casualties are high and episodic victories are combined with temporary setbacks and defeats. These experiences are daily being distilled, and as some comrades fall or suffer burn-out or death, new ones are emerging. The service delivery revolts are defensive and localised in nature and there is no a priori guarantee that they will coalesce and, if so, on the basis of what programme. But any possibility of a new mass movement can only emerge in the midst of such working class self-activity.

In this we can draw on our recent history of such preparatory periods – the early to late 1970s for one – of how such a tide of struggle grows and how the new vanguard absorbs lessons and pours its energy into new organisations – the SRCs of 1976 and 1980, the shop stewards locals of the East Rand, the early civics in the Eastern Cape etc.

The difference with that period is that the newly-honed activists found their home in the UDF and COSATU, and ultimately, the ANC, and in so doing not only found political expression for their struggles but also transformed the ANC – as they had done to the ANC in the 1950s – into a mass working class organisation, albeit with the baggage of a petit-bourgeois leadership in exile (while its SACP partner churned out the Brezhnev sophistries from Prague and Moscow).

A key feature of the current conjuncture however, as has been the case since the late 1990s, is the distance of all of the older movements – COSATU, SANCO and the ANC – from these struggles, and the shrinking of these movements into self-serving husks. Indeed the first response from the Alliance was to deny the existence and legitimacy of these struggles (from 2001- 2005) - and then, later, having found that they refused to lie down, to attempt to co-opt them (e.g. the SACP’s land campaigns and Red October campaigns, COSATU’s call to their affiliates to go and “give leadership” (??) to these struggles). So the struggles remain a work-in-progress in which all sections of the self-styled left have to themselves learn and relearn about mass struggles and how to have their perspectives tested in practice (and even, possibly, found wanting), about who the friends of the new activists are and what they may have to offer the new movements.

In this many sections of the non-Stalinist left have had to be self-critical about imposing their own identities on the struggles and declaring them, as if they already constitute the basis of a left alternative or a new party – evidence of such has already marked some of the interventions of sections of the left in these struggles, often leaving embittered activists with lessons of sectarian battles and over-optimistic calls for national organisation.

But a key and critical feature of the current conjuncture, in respect of the Zuma phenomenon, is the fact that the struggles of the last few years – the 5000 per year, the Khutsongs, the Kennedy Roads, the Harrismiths, the Sebokengs, the Joe Slovos etc have bypassed the Zuma process by completely, have not poured into ANC branches, into the SACP or revived COSATU locals or its affiliates (let alone the Gucci-suited ANCYL).

Not only has Zuma and his camp been entirely complicit in GEAR, AIDs-denialism and all the elements of the neo-liberal project and the fusing of the ANC with the machinery of the state, the Zuma camp have stood outside of and opposed to the waves of new struggles of the last 5 years. The Zuma camp is thus not only not a register of current struggles it is a distraction from these struggles.

In this regard the Zuma campaign is not the blunt instrument underpinned by popular mass working class action. Zuma is not the iconic face of a groundswell of militancy of thousands of activists who have channelled their daily protests into ANC branches. Instead it is an opportunist movement contesting the spoils of patronage made possible by their man holding state instruments in his hands. This can be seen by the new NEC and its most notable feature – in addition to Zuma’s own taint of corruption – is the election of the travelgate MPs, the forged licence scam MPs, the bugging and rogue emails bureaucrats and the beneficiaries of the arms deal. And this can be seen in the form of the standing of the sponsors of the Zuma campaign (in ascending order of importance) – the ANCYL, the SACP of Blade Nzimande, and the COSATU of Zwelenzima Vavi.

How have these forces related to the working class self-activity of recent years?

Each of the above triumvirate has stood opposed to current struggles.

In the case of the ANCYL we can examine its relations to the phenomenon of youth militancy over the last period, say 5 – 10 years. Over this period there have been dozens of student youth struggles – albeit not nearly on the scale as the mass people’s education struggles of the 70s and 80s – from the university students at both the old “bush colleges” and the previously white universities fighting exclusions and high fees to struggles against poor school resources. All of these struggles have passed the ANCYL completely by, as has been the case with the other older student youth organisations – COSAS, the university SRCs - and the newer post-Apartheid Youth commissions. The ANCYL has only been notable for its pronouncements on the Springbok team and for lining up to take Brett Kebble’s money.

In the case of the township youth every study of new social movements, of the waves of township activism and the service delivery revolts have emphasised the fact that they have been overwhelmingly female and that the key activists have been unemployed youth – ostensibly the ANCYL’s natural constituency. Yet in not a single case has the ANCYL been a rallying point or a register of these struggles and there is no evidence of the swelling of the ranks of the ANCYL from these activists.

In the case of the SACP there are clearly many instances of the SACP being a port of call for activists taking up struggles and, indeed the SACP branches and members have been active in heading up struggles in Khutsong and, to a much lesser extent, in Khayelitsha. These instances are however counter-hegemonic episodes in the SACP. While it is not excluded that such instances can exert a left pressure inside the SACP – and we have witnessed instances of campaigns for SACP independence from the ANC (e.g. running candidates in its own name in future elections) in the run-up to the Party’s Congress in August 2007, and the ditching of certain SACP stalwarts in government in the Party’s Central Committee elections – it is important to note that the Party leadership under Blade Nzimande was able to beat off these impulses. So one of the principal co-sponsors of the Zuma campaign – Nzimande - is not a bearer of the militancy on the ground but an opponent of that militancy – insofar as it manifested itself in his own organisation.

Probably the most effective of the Zuma campaigners was COSATU, who was able to rally its shop steward and organiser layer in a much more systematic way than Mbeki and his acolytes thought possible. They are the most likely source of the “renewed” ANC branch members who swept Zuma into power. But are they an index of worker militancy in this period? A source of renewal of a militant ANC?

Gwisai and others speak of a “strike wave” in South Africa in 2007, citing recent strike statistics. To be sure 2007 saw such important strikes such as the public sector strike and we have commented on some of the important features of the strike – its duration, its bringing together new layers of the employed into strike activity etc. But a strike wave? No, these were a series of wage strikes by workers in sectors – public sector, chemicals and engineering – where the unions had been railroaded into 3 year agreements before and, because those agreements had expired, wage negotiations were therefore routinely due in 2007. And of these only the public sector strike took on the semblance of a sustained nation-wide activity. And – most significantly for the arguments being posed here - where the COSATU leadership were notable for seeking to end the strike before the workers wanted to and where they even announced an agreement publicly before any mandates were received. This is the same leadership around Vavi who now present themselves as the champions of the Zuma project.

At a deeper level of the composition of COSATU and the structure of the trade unions, activists and commentators from Buhlungu to Lehulere have written on the increasingly skilled, white-collar nature of the workers at the heart of COSATU and the increasing distance between them and the blue-collar, casualised, feminised majority of workers. To this must be added the plethora of institutions and tripartite mechanisms which have begun to tie a whole layer of COSATU worker-leaders as semi-professional participants in institutions such as NEDLAC (and in some instances PEDLACs), bargaining councils, SETAS, IDP forums, proudly South Africa committees, workplace forums etc whilst conducting tortuous talks in the CCMMA etc. This layer is not a source of renewal for a militant labour movement. This layer is instead concerned with the protection of these blind alleys – inside which they live and breathe so much of their lives – and Zuma’s assurances of being “more consultative” clearly find resonance here. This is the kind of “labour patronage” equivalent of the Zuma patronage associated with the arms deal and BEE get-rich-quick schemes. This layer has been hostile to the new militants fighting struggles in the townships. This layer has also sought to use bargaining council thresholds and union majoritarianism to keep out smaller militant unions and to discipline workers from strikes. Zuma’s sponsorship by this COSATU is no conduit for left or popular pressure on an ANC government, now or in the future.

The hype about the ANC Policy Conference

An important source of the Zuma optimism amongst the SACP leadership is the renewal of the idea that the principal strategic task is the battle for the soul of the ANC. The Zuma victory therefore plays to this narrative and his victory against the cabinet and government of Mbeki is a celebration of the long-held conviction by Cronin and others that Mbeki had long flouted ANC positions, so that there was legitimacy in battling neo-liberalism by battling to wrest the ANC from the control of the Mbeki faction (of course there was no consistency here because a year ago Cronin was warning the left not to see Zuma as an alternative to Mbeki … but that is another story).

It is undoubtedly true that the saga of how the Mbeki faction within the ANC wrested control from the ANC of the UDF, COSATU, the street committees and after its unbanning – the ANC branches – is a decisive one in understanding how South Africa could shift from the popular insurrectionary period of the 1980s to the neo-liberalism of the late 1990s onwards. This is a story that has yet to be fully analysed, published and widely discussed amongst activists today as an abject lesson to be learnt. But by 1996 – the announcement of GEAR - and even before that with the acceptance by the ANC of the neo-liberal features within the Constitutional – the ANC had crossed the class lines, from a mass formation to a neo-liberal ruling class party. The Mbeki project of wresting control from the ANC branches and the Alliance was complete by 1996 and its new monopoly capitalist ruling class status has come complete with a perspective of pursuing imperialist ambitions on the world stage. In this the ANC has become the Southern (along with FRELIMO, MPLA and others) variant of other erstwhile mass formations – such as the British Labour Party and others – who have completely and irreversibly cut ties with their working class base (except for making electoral appeals to sections of the class in the usual way all bourgeois parties appeal to electorates to win elections).

Because the ANC has detached itself from its erstwhile working class Zuma could but only campaign on the basis that he is the more “authentic ANC”, that he will “listen” etc whilst sticking to the same policies. Apart from the man’s own inclinations to peddle the same neo-liberal policies of Mbeki (that he was so much part and parcel of driving through) – he had no alternative base within the ANC for such alternative policies.

Now Vavi and others would have it otherwise … and they claim an important victory in the form of, firstly, the July Policy Conference resolutions of the ANC – which they claim was a step to the left – and the commitment by Zuma that (apparently unlike Mbeki) he would respect ANC Policy Conference decisions. But were the July Policy Conference decisions by the ANC a shift to the left, a victory for COSATU?

Dinga Sikwebu has noted that the COSATU hype about the so-called “left” shift of the ANC conference is just that – hype:

“But another reading of the outcomes of the ANC policy conference can lead to a less-optimistic assessment. Firstly, nowhere in the resolutions is there enthusiasm from the ANC for reconfiguring the Tripartite Alliance. The resolution on organisational renewal notes the call from Cosatu for a pact and the debate within the SACP on electoral options for the party, but dismissively states that the “ANC respects the right of individual Alliance partners to discuss and arrive at their own decisions on how they seek to pursue their strategic objectives. Consistent with this principle, the ANC will continue to determine, in its own structures and processes, how best to advance its own strategic objectives”. Issues such as the establishment of a state-owned bank, mining, steel, energy and information & communication technology parastatals, which Cosatu lists as indicators of a shift, have been sent back to branches. So are issues such as rural development strategy, land reform and the debate on the appropriateness of running a surplus as an element of fiscal policy.”

The second notable thing about the ANC policy conference is how bland some of the resolutions are. What does a call on the state to “ensure proper management and exploitation of strategic mineral and energy resources” mean? Cosatu celebrates this as an “interventionist approach to use of mineral resources”. Does a reference to a “new and more equitable growth path” warrant a celebration when there are no details on what that path entails? What is clear is that Cosatu uses a different measuring stick to the one developed at its congress last year, in its evaluation of the ANC policy conference. The federation’s congress identified implementation of the Freedom Charter provisions, abolition of legislation that leads to casualisation and an end to privatisation and commodified service delivery, as the criteria to assess whether the ANC was moving leftwards or not. None of these can be found in the conference’s outcome.

Thirdly, a different reading of the resolutions will reveal that notions like the developmental state and industrial strategy are not new ANC and government policies. A survey of ANC documents from the 1990s will show how the two concepts have been part of the organisation’s policy arsenal. The resolution for a national health insurance also goes back to the 1997 ANC national conference in Mafikeng. The Stellenbosch ANC conference in 2002 called on the government “to continue with plans towards a comprehensive social security system”. So was its identification of the use of monetary policy “in a flexible manner, consistent with broad aims of the ANC economic policy, including job creation, investment and poverty eradication”.

Sikwebu goes on to say:

“It is obvious that the political strategy to contest the direction of the ANC predisposes Cosatu to seeing shifts where none exist or when their qualitative impact on the working class and the poor is uncertain.”

In this he finds affirmation in the words of the ANC’s economic transformation coordinator Michael Sacks:

“It is becoming predictable that whenever the ANC meets, Cosatu will declare a shift leftwards. This is what the federation said when the ANC had its national general council (NGC) in Port Elizabeth in 2000. Cosatu also referred to a shift after the Stellenbosch national conference in 2002. Similar pronouncements were made when we had another NGC in 2005”. [what has been happening within the ANC since 2000 is a] process of policy development in which as the ANC gains experience, it fine tunes and adapts its policies”.

So the promise of a Zuma presidency respecting ANC policy decisions as a counterweight to neo-liberalism, as a source of left pressure, has been shown to be misleading (this of course would have been very different if we had been talking about the pre-1996 ANC).

This, let us be kind, “misreading” of the ANC’s trajectory has been a feature of the pronouncements of the COSATU and SACP leadership since 1996 and can be put in the same dustbin with other such over-optimistic victory claims such as the celebration of the “developmental state”, the “post-GEAR consensus”, “restructuring of state assets” (who now still remembers how this was claimed in 1996 as a victory against privatisation?), ASGISA etc etc.

The Left and the “two centres of power”

Fundamentally there aren’t two centres of power – in the Marxist sense, as two contending sets of class forces. However real and acrimonious the fights are, they are about wooing bourgeois power whilst seeking access to patronage. But this does not mean that the Zuma-Mbeki fight is irrelevant to the broader working class or that a future Zuma presidency (of the country) would not be different. We cannot know the details of the latter in advance and we cannot here project the exact balance of forces in two years’ time or how the ANC will attempt to manage its own internal organisational crisis.

We can however say something about the character of the Zuma camp now and we can say something about what impact its existence as a rival to the Mbeki camp will have on political debates amongst activists over the next two years.

First as regards the Zuma camp, its character as the camp of patronage presents a whole series of challenges for the people. Having won the ANC vote – and assuming he can survive the legal indictment (which is by no means certain, but more of that later) - Zuma will have to prove himself to big capital, to the “markets”. He has already begun this – placating investors, meeting CIA-funded business groups etc. But they will up their ante, demand more than just verbal assurances (it has always been noteworthy that while the media have speculated that Zuma owes his backers – COSATU etc - something, they fail to see how Zuma has to prove himself even more to his new backers – big capital). In this regard it is not unlikely that Zuma’s assurances that it’s “business as usual” in respect of Mbeki’ neo-liberal policies may require an additional sop to big business to make those assurances convincing.

Because the Zuma camp is a camp of patronage (which has accused Mbeki of using state machinery to fight political battles), we may see more instances of contested abuse of fiefdoms who control different components of the state bureaucracy. More Scorpions vs. Selebi, fights between the SAP and the Scorpions, within the Intelligence sector, scraps over state tenders and BEE deals, over the composition of the judiciary etc - a decline in the “rule of law”. Whilst the left have always seen through the nature of bourgeois laws and how they sanctify private property and exploitation, worker activists have never been indifferent to the issue of due process in law, of competent judges, of the civic freedoms that have been an important part of mass struggles for democratic rights conducted over most of the twentieth century. In that sense a faction based on patronage and having to deliver jobs for pals, having seen its rival’s use of state institutions; a faction loaded with arms dealers and other crooks, who will want their deals, their tenders etc is no friend of worker activists.

Zuma’s rape trial also revealed his sexism and unleashed a frenzy of misogynism amongst some of his supporters. He has compounded this with homophobic comments – all of which reveal a man suffused with sexism. Mbeki’s courting of a women candidate for President - the Zuma camp saw this as a ploy to stop “their man” – provided grist to the mill for their misogynistic impulses (we heard how Vavi attacked the Mbeki camp for this idea of having a woman president and accused it of “womanising”). The Zuma camp will be at best a deadweight on women’s struggles for liberation, and at worst, give vent to and strengthen male domination in South African politics. To be sure male domination is a lot wider than Zuma but the fact that his public face has been so explicitly tied to sexual power – from the rape accusation, to his many wives – all will make things more difficult for feminist activists to challenge male domination in our movements.

Moreover the Zuma camp also includes direct appeals to reactionary Zulu identity (100% Zulu boy) – playing into the hands of divisive politics which the ANC, the UDF and COSATU spent so much time, and lives, attempting to transcend, and which was so exploited by Inkatha and the Apartheid state in the 1970s and 80s. The struggle for a non-racial mass movement has become harder.

But, and in some ways even more challenging than these will be the fact that for the next two years the prism of the “Mbeki-ites versus the Zuma-ites”, of the “ANC versus the Government” is likely to be a prism that the COSATU and SACP leadership will use to view all struggles - an ideological template that activists will be exhorted to use to understand all struggles and to frame tactical and strategic choices facing movements. One saw this already in the 2007 NUMSA wage deadlocks in both engineering and the auto sectors, where leadership assessed the validity and duration of strike action, not from the readiness of the workers and the moral legitimacy of their cause, but from whether the strike strengthened the hands of Zuma or Mbeki. One saw this as well in the public sector strike where media pundits latched onto the strike as a Jacob Zuma-factional attempt to embarrass Mbeki. In this sense the struggle for political clarity and regeneration within the labour movement just got harder.

Whilst the township-based struggles of the social movements may have passed the Zuma-faction by and whilst the Zuma-ites may have been in opposition to the militancy of these struggles, this does not mean that the activists involved define themselves as in opposition to the ANC, or even to neo-liberalism. Elsewhere in this paper I have characterised the activists involved in these struggles as a new set of working class opinion makers, a new vanguard, but one still shaping their politics, their tactics, strategies and potential allies and organisational forms. One of the key tasks facing them is the issue of political clarity, of unmasking any illusions in bourgeois legitimacy and the racist, sexist, capitalist ideology which perpetuates this legitimacy. At the head of the project of legitimising these capitalist social relations is the ruling party – the ANC. That rule is mediated by a whole series of formations which entrench that rule but have roots in the working class – chiefly COSATU and the SACP. In the case of COSATU these roots also mean that the labour movement can be sources of revolutionary change together with the township based activists in the social movements. But to achieve greater unity between the labour movement and the new social movements demands a greater sense of political clarity amongst the militant activists conducting struggles, about who the enemy is – neoliberal capitalism and its ruling party, the ANC.

The struggle for that clarity is likely to be conducted under more difficult circumstances whilst the Zuma-Mbeki factional struggles and Zuma’s ambitions for the Presidency, including his forthcoming court case, are used by ANC/SACP leaders to attempt to intervene in the direction of struggles in the next period. Let those on the left, who claim revolutionary politics, not join them in this project.



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