Left seizes control of South Africa’s ANC

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Left Turn Left Turn's picture
Left seizes control of South Africa’s ANC

 

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

[url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article5581272.ece]Left seizes control of South Africa’s ANC[/url]

 

Quote:

SOUTH AFRICA’S ruling African National Congress (ANC) has veered sharply to the left and will go into elections, expected to be held in April, with a manifesto largely dictated by the country’s Communist party, according to senior party officials.

Under Jacob Zuma, its new leader, it has quietly adopted a radical platform of social policies which the business community claim are unaffordable.

The ANC already promises a free allowance of water and electricity to all and has introduced the largest welfare state ever seen in a developing country, with more than 40% of the population in receipt of state handouts.

Under the influence of its firebrand new secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, a former leader of the mine-workers’ union and chairman of the South African Communist party, it is adopting policies and rhetoric based on left-wing states such as Cuba and Venezuela.

Quote:

ZUMA’S MANIFESTO

A pledge to create 5m new jobs

Family allowance of £15 a month up to age 18

Free universal health insurance

No school fees for 60% that currently pay for state education

 

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Such measures are desperately needed if South Africa is to deal with its basic problems.  The Third Way and hoping and wishing that corporations would be decent out of their own volition simply doesn't work.

It's silly, however, to insist that these new policies are only being adopted because they've been "dictated" by the SACP.  They've been begged for by the rank-and-file voters of the ANC for years.  If they'd been in place since independence, South Africa would never have had a huge crime problem.

The west and the media will now embrace the new "opposition party" that was just created by right-wing Mbeki diehards.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________ Our Demands Most Moderate are/ We Only Want The World! -James Connolly

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Here's a ZNet article from back in August that takes a much more dim view of Zuma. My views on this subject are not at all worked out yet, so I'm just putting it forward to further the debate on this subject.

[url=http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/18432]Need Real Debate On South Africa's Future[/url]

 

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One of the reasons listed for defeating Mbeki as ANC president was to release the "democratic genie", to provide an opening, to give voice to those who had been excluded, to combat centralisation and to allow space to the previously marginalised. But if all that is true, what are we to make of the current upheavals in ANC structures and the profusion of intimidating rhetoric in the alliance? Possibly one can dismiss much of this demagoguery, since many are young and obviously know little about history, struggle or revolution, and more about acquisition of wealth and positions. Nevertheless, the air is filled with revolutionary and pseudo-revolutionary phrases, uttered often as (ultimately violent) threats against anyone who might wish to stop the Zuma "advance'.

Many of the ANC and alliance leaders are watching in silence as the inherited traditions of the organisation are destroyed. I do not suggest that the legacy is unproblematic and that what it means "to be ANC" is the same at all times. But who is grappling with this, as we tried to do in the early 1990s, after unbanning, when it was not possible to simply pick up from 1960? Are shortcuts not being taken at the expense of the very masses in whose name the Zuma project purports to speak?

Why is there little real debate over the country's problems and alternatives? How is it that no one in the alliance is debating what the Zuma phenomenon may mean as a programmatic question, and whether and how his leadership differs from that of Thabo Mbeki? Why is it that Zuma has attracted a range of people who do not have clear ideological reasons for their affiliation, but attribute "leftism" to the ANC president? Has the left project absorbed Zuma - or has the official left dissolved in the Zuma "tsunami"?

Why is there a conscious blindness to Zuma's actual positions? The current ANC president abandoned the SACP in 1990 and was a comrade in arms and close collaborator of Thabo Mbeki for decades. There is no record of any disagreement with Mbeki, and the words "working class" were not regular features of Zuma's vocabulary from 1990 to his dismissal as deputy presidency of the country in 2005. The fact is that Zuma and Mbeki had no programmatic or ideological differences.

Is it not true to suggest that Zuma's utterances and actions may in fact now be more rightist and threatening to democratic liberties, constitutionalism (and certainly gender rights) than anything that Mbeki has ever said or done? Recently almost R1.5 million was paid, pledged by or coerced from delegates as feudal tribute to Zuma - to spend as he likes - at the Free State ANC conference. Zuma referred to a similar serf-like offering being imminent from the SACP. How does this square with the left project? Are there limits on this private/feudal accumulation? How will it influence appointments and policies?

 

 

jasonJ2

 weeeee Zimbabwe 2.0 

Is it 4:20 yet?

Fidel

This is neoliberal capitalism's swan song so often mentioned in glowing articles on financial capitalism during the roaring 90's. And it's looking more like a repeat of the 1930's swan dive. It didnt work any better in post-apartheid Africa than it did anywhere else around the world.

The reason perestroika didnt work in 1990's Russia was alluded to by a US state dept official at the time. He talked about "the flora and fauna" of capitalism in the US and Europe. He mentioned that over time, civil society groups had sprung up all over the western world, things like trade unions, civil society groups and public policies for social spending which provide things to workers that markets do not. He was basically talking about the vast policies for socialism and public spending in America and Europe since the end of laissez-faire capitalism of the depression era - things which make capitalism somewhat tolerable for millions of people, and to work when markets fail. Market failures tend to occur on a regular basis with crises-oriented capitalism.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Left Turn wrote:

ZUMA’S MANIFESTO

A pledge to create 5m new jobs

Family allowance of £15 a month up to age 18

Free universal health insurance

No school fees for 60% that currently pay for state education

Sounds like something Jack Layton could agree with. Is this the Sunday Times's idea of a "Communist firebrand's" manifesto?

Fidel

M. Spector wrote:

Left Turn wrote:

ZUMA’S MANIFESTO

A pledge to create 5m new jobs

Family allowance of £15 a month up to age 18

Free universal health insurance

No school fees for 60% that currently pay for state education

Sounds like something Jack Layton could agree with. Is this the Sunday Times's idea of a "Communist firebrand's" manifesto?

Well we've had a version of socialized medicine for a while, thanks to Tommy Douglas' CCF establishing the first such public policy in the western hemisphere and NDP fighting hardest for its survival today. So strike that one off the list.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Just thought I'd remind anybody who'd clicked on this thread and HADN'T opened the link yet that "Left seizes control of South Africa's ANC" was the Sunday Times' headline, not Left Turn's opinion of the event under discussion.  

 

Mind you, in 1860, The Sunday Times headline(were they under their current management)on the U.S. presidential election of that year might well have been "Anti-Slavery Left seize power in the States".

_________________________________________________________________________________________________ Our Demands Most Moderate are/ We Only Want The World! -James Connolly

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Here's an MRZine article from December that is the best analysis that I've found on Zuma and the current state of the ANC:

[url=http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/bond221207.html]Zuma, the Centre-Left and the Left-Left[/url]

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There really has been a change of the guard.  But is it a move left?  SACP intellectual leader Jeremy Cronin -- who was #5 in the ANC vote - offers this spin about the party's ideological direction.  The ANC conference just complete witnessed a "deepening and consolidation" of the progressive trajectory already underway, says Cronin.  Hence under a President Zuma, "There would be no dramatic U-turn" on matters already under contestation: Pretoria's tight monetary policy, chaotic credit market regulation, and the liberalised trade and industrial policies which have killed a million jobs.  For those like Cronin, the recent revival of the "National Democratic Revolution" is already undermining the neoliberal bloc within the ANC.

Is it?  In reality, many on the centre-left -- Cronin too -- have been rather lukewarm about the Zuma campaign, because as national deputy president starting in 1999, Zuma was nowhere visible with workers and the poor (or women, needless to say) pulling against Mbeki and the other weighty neoliberals: Trevor Manuel (finance), Alec Erwin (trade/privatisation), Tito Mboweni (central bank governor), Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi (public service) and Sydney Mufamadi (local government).  Of these, only Manuel retained an NEC seat, voted in at #57 after having been #1 in the 2002 vote.

 

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But like so much other 'talk left walk right' activity here, that's precisely where the problem of seduction emerges, in illusions that Zuma's long and winding road to the country's presidency in 2009 (when Mbeki must retire) will generate conditions for social change along the route.  We all witnessed how most of the US progressive movement fell flat on its face in 1993, suckered by Bill 'Slick Willy' Clinton -- whose defeat of an elite incumbent (George Bush Sr), rural roots, home-boy humility, traditions of Southern patriarchy (and promiscuity) and apparent empathy for ordinary people presaged Zuma's own character flaws -- and I think this is probably going to be the fate of a large portion of the SA centre-left.

South Africa's left-left forces don't buy it, though.  No one from the new social movements believes that a small increase in anti-poverty grants and other social wage improvements -- amounting to less than 3% of GDP over apartheid-era stats -- represents more than tokenistic welfare.  With a 14% increase in electricity prices set for next year, and privatisation of 30% of generation capacity also on the cards, any suggestion of expanding basic services runs up against a contrary, commodified logic.

And then looking at the vast ($60 billion) spending planned for a small herd of white elephants -- once-off 2010 soccer stadia, big dams largely for mining houses, dicey nuclear power plants, aluminum smelter co-investments, speedy trains for the rich (who won't use public transport) and the rearmaments craze replete with corrupting German, French and British weapons dealers -- it is hard to see anything 'developmental' about this crony-capitalist state.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Left Turn, who are the groups that are referred to in this article as the "left left".  You'd have thought they'd have named some orgs, but none were mentioned.  

_________________________________________________________________________________________________ Our Demands Most Moderate are/ We Only Want The World! -James Connolly

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Ken, they mnetion the "new social movements" in reference to the "lef-left", which I would take to be more activist oriented groups, although I don't know of any specific names. I'd make an educated guess that these social movements probably share similarities with far left social movements in other countries, but with local differences, as is the case globally.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

OK.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________ Our Demands Most Moderate are/ We Only Want The World! -James Connolly