During the last week of July 2009, African workers exploded in open rebellion in several cities of occupied Azania (South Africa).
Our people’s message to the South African government led by the African National Congress (ANC) was clear: African workers are tired of subsisting on less than $2 a day, fed up with having to live in shacks and filthy, unsanitary buildings, and angry at being repressed constantly by the brutal armed police on our own land.
In Siyathemba and Meyerton townships near Johannesburg, our people rose up and began reclaiming farmlands stolen from us by the white minority settlers.
In Thokoza, east of Johannesburg, African workers demonstrated against the lack of basic sanitation, housing and employment while demanding hospitals and schools.
In the city of Durban, the hungry, rebellious population appropriated entire food markets. African workers blockaded roads, stoned police and set the cops’ cars ablaze.
These social explosions should not be surprising. The policies of Nelson Mandela’s ANC government left the writing on the wall. Instead of ending the colonial apartheid rule through self-government by the African masses, Mandela and the ANC continued the colonial control of Azania by imposing the even more brutal system of neocolonialism.
As white power in black face, neocolonialism masks the role of white settler colonialism in Occupied Azania, along with the U.S. and other imperialist powers in the oppression of our people by using African rulers as their willing puppets.
South Africa’s so-called Truth and Reconciliation Commission exonerated the white settler population as well as the rulers of the apartheid regime of their crimes against African people, known throughout the world as crimes against humanity.
These criminals were let off the hook even while the neocolonial government was locking up our freedom fighters who refused to surrender to ANC’s complicity with imperialism.
After decades of rent strikes and demands for decent housing by African workers, the neocolonial ANC regime built “Mandela Houses,” shanties not fit even for cattle.
As African People’s Socialist Party Chairman Omali Yeshitela asked at the 8th Congress of the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania in 2002, “Which of these houses does Mandela live in?”
ANC leader Thabo Mbeki, Mandela’s successor as president, continued Mandela’s attack on the African working class. Mbeki’s BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) was known by the masses as the Black Enrichment Elite because of its self-serving financial benefits to the African petty bourgeoisie at the expense of the workers.
As The Burning Spear has long predicted we are seeing the implosion of the ANC as imperial servants jockey for power inside the ruling party. Following the ousting of Mbeki from the presidency and leadership of ANC, Jacob Zuma took power, voted in by the impoverished African workers, but he continues to serve imperialism. Following the split in ANC, we have seen the creation of COPE (Congress of the People) led by Mosiuoa Lekota.
Though unreported by the bourgeois media, ongoing class struggle has continued between white settlers and African workers since the end of apartheid, the colonial system based on the Jim Crow segregation laws in the U.S.
This struggle to regain African land for African people has led to the killing of more than 500 white settlers in this most recent period of upheaval.
Conditions for African workers worsen under neocolonialism
Since the ANC came into power beginning with Nelson Mandela there has been an ever-growing gap between the impoverished African majority, who have become 19 percent poorer, and the white settler minority that has grown 14 percent richer.
White settlers continue to control 87 percent of our land while African workers are forced to live in the squalid shantytowns.
The Committee of Inquiry into a Comprehensive Social Security System for South Africa found that about 55 percent of all South Africans live in poverty. The committee calculated that 60.8 percent of all persons in South Africa are living on less than 250 Rand (about 32 U.S. dollars) each per month, based on 1996 census data.
In 2002, the committee estimated that 11 million children between birth and 18 years are living in dire poverty in South Africa on less than 200 Rand per capita per month (about 25 U.S. dollars). The children are therefore living on less than half the minimal 400 Rand per capita per month required to meet their basic needs. A majority of children under nine years of age are facing near starvation.
According to the Human Sciences Research Council report from July 2004, “Limpopo and the Eastern Cape had the highest proportion of poor with 77 percent and 72 percent of their populations living below the poverty income line, respectively.
“The unemployment rate for black South Africans is 41.2 percent, among the worst in all of Africa. White South Africans have an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, among the best in the developed world. Seventeen percent of South Africans of Indian descent are out of work, while 19.8 percent of the mixed-race or "colored" population is unemployed… Even more significant, in terms of hope for the future, 51.4 percent of youths aged 16 to 24 are unemployed. That means that once young people graduate or drop out of school, more than half of them are unable to find work. Many of these young people turn to black-market activities, such as the drug trade or prostitution, or support themselves through robbery and violent crime… The average black worker makes 12,000 rand per year ($1525 US). A white worker averages 65,400 rand ($8,270 US).
“About 71 percent of white South Africans have at least a high school education. Only 22 percent of blacks have finished high school…Only eighteen percent of black households have running water, while 87 percent of white households do. Ninety-five percent of white families have a telephone, and 46 percent own a computer. For black families, 31 percent have a phone, and less than 2 percent have a computer.”
(Kallie Szczepanski, www.helium.com/items/1002622-poverty-and-inequality-in-south-africa.)
ANC, a white imperialist tool of the African petty bourgeoisie class for wealth and power
The African petty bourgeoisie organized in the form of the ANC has selfishly used the power of mobilized African workers and poor peasants in South Africa to cut a deal with white imperialism and settlers.
On the negotiating table ANC got power by offering to end revolutionary African resistance to white settler colonialism in South Africa. They brokered a deal with white power that no white leader would go to jail for crimes committed against African people and our leaders. The ANC made sure white people got to keep all wealth stolen from us and most of our land.
In return, the ANC would be given the job to administer South Africa on behalf of imperialism, and its leaders are rewarded with wealth and power. One example is the creation of the Black Economic Empowerment program, which made the African petty bourgeoisie members of the boards of directors of major imperialist corporations and companies that enslave our people and steal our precious resources.
According to a report from the Empowerdex agency there are 260 African BEE individuals holding 367 directorships in 387 South African based-companies. Of that total, 62 are executive positions. Ten are at the level of executive chairman or deputy chairman, while eight are at the CEO level.
According to Empowerdex, Cyril Ramaphosa, a former Trade Union official and ANC general secretary, tops the list. An Empowerdex report states that “Ramaphosa has a market influence of 137 billion Rand and can both participate in and contribute to the economic decisions made by corporate market heavyweights.”
“With his positions in Gold Fields, Absa, Northam, Mvela and Trans Hex, ,” major white-owned corporations extraction Azanian resources, another former, member of the ANC executive committee, Tokyo Sexwale, ranks as the second most influential BEE director on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.” (From BEE top black business pioneers, Fin24.com 2003/01/10 05)
The ANC leaders have seized political power to solve their problems and enrich themselves by joining the former blood sucking colonial rulers. Their aspirations have been met. They are actively involved with the exploitation and repression of the people.
What African workers lack is a revolutionary party that represents our own selfish interests for power in our own hands through the unification and liberation of Africa under the leadership of African workers and poor peasants.
Last year, due to the lack of revolutionary organization on the ground in Azania, African workers misdirected their anger towards the neocolonial regime by waging fratricidal attacks on Africans from outside Azania. Fleeing crushing poverty and political repression Africans from Zimbabwe, Somalia, Congo and other places were attacked as they poured into Azania in hopes of finding a better a life.
South African president Jacob Zuma is using this to further repress the already suffering African working class. “There can be no justification for violence, looting and destruction of property or attacks on foreign nationals residing in our country,” Zuma said. “The law enforcement agencies will continue to act swiftly and to take action against all who break the law.”
The role of the state under ANC’s rule is the same as it was under direct white rule: maintain the status quo
Sicelo Shiceka, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, responded to the just rebellions of African masses in an interview on a Johannesburg talk radio show by saying, “We’ll deal ruthlessly with (the uprisings of African workers) because we can’t allow that. We’re not going to allow anyone to attain their goals by illegal means.”
In South Africa, as in any society split into classes and divided between the haves and the have-nots, anything the rulers do to maintain their power, capital and private propriety against the have-nots is always legal. The struggle of the oppressed to resist or overturn neocolonialism is illegal.
The South African state used to have a white face. Now it has a black face, but its function remains the same: maintain the status quo. South Africa is still ruled by the minority white settlers and the African petty bourgeois class backed by U.S. and European imperialism over the African working and peasant class. The African National Congress fought for the liberty to join white capitalists at African people’s expense.
The African People’s Socialist Party is calling on African workers not to be fooled by elections in Azania, which represent nothing more than a peaceful contest between white capitalists and black politicians for the control of state.
It does not matter if ANC wins with 100 percent or 51 percent, what is primary to the capitalists and imperialists is the finances of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and money in the banks. It is the imperialist corporations that control the means of production and oversees the theft of our vast mineral resources, land and farms. The ANC has the power to control all of that at the expense of the people. This is the role of the state.
The real power for African workers is not in the ballot boxes, but in capturing state power, which will allow us to immediately implement our own Revolutionary National Democratic Program being put forward by the African Socialist International.
We must determine our own solutions, which speak to our conditions at the expense of the minority of settler neocolonial regime or white power in black face. We do not have time to listen to Zuma’s promises nor to his silly song, “Bring me my machine gun.” He will not use it against settlers but against African revolution.
We need state power in our own black hands to control our own land and own lives.
Revolutionary leadership: the missing factor in the struggle for a workers state in Azania
For the past 15 years our Party and The Burning Spear newspaper have summed up the temporary victory of opportunism in occupied Azania, in the form of the African National Congress.
It is unacceptable that no organization from within Azania’s liberation movement has come forward to lead the resistance of the African working class.
No organization has made a criticism of the African petty bourgeoisie in the form of the ANC for their collaboration with imperialism against the interests of African people everywhere.
This is class peace, a form of opportunism, which maintains status quo and protects imperialism. South Africa is no exception when it comes to the nature and social aims of the African petty bourgeoisie, which has revealed its true face as white power in black face in each country and African community around the world.
The African petty bourgeoisie is a treacherous, opportunistic social force that always betrays Africa and the African revolution. Driven by its own parasitic class interests the petty bourgeoisie as a class will never defend African national interests. When it comes to revolution the sell-out petty bourgeoisie always surrenders to our imperialist oppressors.
The African petty bourgeoisie cannot lead the revolution, regardless if it were in the form of the African National Congress, the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), or any other organization that claims to stand for the liberation of African people.
The struggle for national liberation, socialism and happiness has reached its limitations in Azania just as it has everywhere in the African world. It can’t go further, unless the African workers are in the lead, organized in the African Socialist International (ASI).
The African laboring class must be freed from any ideological and political influence of the African petty bourgeoisie. A fierce struggle must be taken on throughout the country, inside all trade unions, former liberation organizations and elsewhere to win the workers to the conclusion that we must have our own African working class party, led by the best sons and daughters of Azania.
We need a party of African workers fighting to seize state power as part of the movement to liberate Africa and get rid of the false borders imposed by colonialism. This is what the African Socialist International represents.
We need a party that will redefine the freedom struggle inside Azania in this new era of resistance in the crisis of imperialism. We need the African Socialist International that puts the struggle of African workers in Azania in the context of the worldwide struggle for the complete liberation of Africa and African people under the leadership of the African working class.
The struggle is for African workers to seize state power, in alliance with all democratic and progressive forces inside Azania. We need a revolutionary democratic program, which addresses the interests of all oppressed people inside the country under the leadership of the revolutionary party of workers.
This party must be part of the African Socialist International. This is the only way the African working class in Azania can successfully seize power, take control of the means of production and distribution, and complete its historical mission to industrialize the whole Africa and lead the united states of Africa.
In the mean time we are demanding the immediate release of all African workers and organizers arrested by the ANC government during the recent uprisings. We have the right to organize, protest and strike against oppression and exploitation on our own terms.
Join the African Socialist International!
No Compromise! No Surrender!
1. STATS SA & World Bank. 2001. Measuring Poverty in South Africa.
2. IDASA did not attempt to estimate the minimum level of income needed to provide a decent standard of living for children to find the
poverty line. The Committee of Inquiry recommended the amount of R400 per capita as a useful poverty line for South Africa (CoI
2002:62). The amount of R200/month per capita was chosen to indicate those children in dire poverty i.e. who are ultra-poor.
3. National Food Consumption Survey, 1999.