NTS the Azanian Uprising

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Challenging the Hegemony of the ANC and Completing the Azanian Revolution. Written by Kali Akuno. Saturday, November 3, 2012.

Transcript of NTS the Azanian Uprising

  • OCCASIONAL PAPER NO. 3 SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2012

    The Azanian Uprising:Challenging the Hegemony of the ANC

    and Completing the Azanian RevolutionWritten by Kali Akuno

    For the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Malcolm X Solidarity Committee

    Azania, better known to most as South Africa, is afire with worker resistance and social unrest. Since August, hundreds of thousands of workers, the unemployed, and their allies have engaged in a pitched battle against the forces of transnational capital, particularly those concentrated in the mineral ex-traction industries, and the African National Congress (ANC) government and its partners the Coalition of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) known at the Tripartite Alliance.1 The work-ers rebellion has literally brought the Azanian economy, one of the largest and most strategic in the world, to a virtual stand still and created an unprecedented political crisis for the ruling Tripartite Alliance and its international backers.2

    The workers uprising is rooted in the deepening of capitalist exploitation in Azania since the end of Apartheid and the failure of the ANC government to implement the transformative program outlined in the Freedom Charter that promised to democratize the economy for the benefit of the majority of Azanias peoples.3 It must also be understood as part of the wave of global resistance against the austerity impositions of neo-liberal capitalism stimulated by the col-lapse of the global economy in 2007 2008. This wave has touched Algeria, Bah-rain, Brazil, Chile, Cte dIvoire, England, France, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Syria, Yemen, the United States and beyond! However, in terms of scale, scope and impact, the up-surge in Azania is only rivaled by the popular uprisings in Egypt, Greece, Quebec, and Tunisia. However, despite its scale, scope and impact, the Azanian uprising has received very little attention by left and progressive forces in the United States. One of the primary reasons why this is so can be directly attributed to the support of the ANC and COSATU by the vast majority of left and progressive forces within the US (the SACP receives less support for ideological reasons). To most, the ANC, COSATU and SACP are the unrivaled liberators of Azania, who through decades

    of protracted struggle delivered the country from the grips of Apartheid and white minority domination. The dominance of this narrative and position has made it difficult for these forces to contextualize the Marikana massacre and understand the workers rebellion, and if and how they should relate to it.4

    1 For more information on the Tripartite Alliance see http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=2051. 2 For more information on the economic impact of the strike see http://atlantablackstar.com/2012/10/08/south-african-strikes-crippling-country-creating-shortages/ and http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/south-africas-ruling-party-paralyzed-as-strikes-choke-off-economy/article4595773/. For more information on the political crisis see http://links.org.au/node/3063. 3 For a comprehensive analysis of this failure see Julian Kunnie, Is Apartheid Really Dead? Pan-Africanist Working-Class Cultural Critical Perspectives, published by Westview Press 2000. See also http://infoburst.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/are-we-better-or-worse-than-Apartheid-the-lonmin-parallel/. 4 See the following early article by Jean Damu http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/20/behind-the-south-africa-mineworkers-strike/, which demonstrates some of the early confusion and bias relating to the Lonmin strike and the rivalry between the Association of Mine Workers and Construction Unions (AMCU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Information that the NUM helped spark the Lonmin strike by killing 2 of its own members seriously contradicts this view http://dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2012-10-12-marikana-prequel-num-and-the-murders-that-started-it-all?fb_action_ids=10101594644082283&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=timeline_og&action_object_map=%7B%2210101594644082283%22%3A432305533492432%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210101594644082283%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D. See also http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/1456.

  • The crisis posed by the Marikana massacre is threatening the posi-tion of the Tripartite Alliance. Its legitimacy is being challenged and with it certain aspects of its power. The weakening of its legitimacy and power is prefaced by its failure to improve the lives of the vast majority of the people of Azania after Apartheid. This failure is rooted in the compromise struck by the Tripartite Alliance with the South African settler regime, US imperialism, and the forces of transnational capital.5

    The compromise consisted of maintaining the capitalist social order, including white settler ownership, in exchange for nominal political control over the bourgeois state and the inclusion of Black and non-white peoples into the capitalist class. It is this deal that produced the likes of Cyril Ramaphosa, who transitioned from a mineworker and COSATU leader during Apartheid to a part owner of the Lonmin mining company and one of the richest men in post-Apartheid Azania.6

    This historic compromise should not be understood as a sellout or betrayal of the masses by a revolutionary party. From its inception the ANC was a liberal democratic organization that accepted the twin monsters of capitalist social production and liberal democra-cy.7 Along the protracted road of struggle, the ANC adopted many social democratic ideals, such as those in the Freedom Charter, and even incorporated a good number of revolutionary forces within its ranks from the communist party and various revolutionary national-ist trends, but it never waivered or ceased being in its fundamental character a liberal democratic organization. And as such, it never fully intended on breaking with capitalism and imperialism. The notion that the ANC was or is a party of national liberation is

    5 For some background on this historic compromise see http://johnpilger.com/articles/Apartheid-never-died-in-south-africa-it-inspired-a-world-order-upheld-by-force-and-illusion, http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8818. 6 For more info on Cyril Ramaphosa and other ANC officials turned Black capitalists see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/24/cyril-ramaphosa-lonmin-email-reputation, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/24/lonmin-emails-anc-elder-baron, and http://www.internationalist.org/southafricaminemassacre1208.html. 7 For some background and perspective on this see Robert J. C. Young, Fanon and the Turn to Armed Struggle in Africa, in Wasafiri Issue 44 Spring 2005 and William Mervin Gumede, Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC, Published by Zebra Press, 2005.

    more myth than substance.8 And it is likely that the Marikana mas-sacre has forever shattered that myth. Marikana, like the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 and the Soweto massacre in 1976, is clearly a game changer. It has radicalized the consciousness of a generation and altered its social expectations and relations. There is no going back to the pre-Marikana status quo, no matter how much the Tripartite Alliance and its allies utilize the repressive might of the state to try and make it so.9 And although this crisis most likely wont result in the fall of the ANC, let alone a full-scale social revolution given the still fragmented nature of the revolutionary forces in Azania, it is clear that the hegemony of the ANC has been forever shattered. A new era is emerging in Azania as a direct result of the Marikana massacre and the workers uprising. The era holds both great promise and peril. If the revolutionary left forces and radical social movements can consolidate over the next several months and years as the capi-talist world system continues to struggle there is a potential for these forces to complete the Azanian revolution that was interrupted by the negotiations and compromises of the ANC in the late 1980s and early 90s. If these forces are unable or unwilling to complete this task, then it is likely the ongoing national and international crisis will result in ethnic conflict as a result of the provocation and degeneration of the ANC.

    What We Can Do: The Role of International Allies

    Our primary task is to do whatever we can to support the radi-cal social movements (like the emerging independent Work-ers movement, the Landless Peoples movement, the Shack

    8 Again, see Julian Kunnie, Is Apartheid Really Dead? Pan-Africanist Working-Class Cultural Critical Perspectives, published by Westview Press 2000 and Robert J. C. Young, Fanon and the Turn to Armed Struggle in Africa, in Wasafiri Issue 44 Spring 2005. 9 For more information see http://links.org.au/node/3071, http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/christivanderwesthuizen/2012/09/04/marikana-the-sign-of-a-schizophrenic-state/, and http://www.globallabour.info/en/2012/10/lonmin_withdrawal_of_murder_ch.html.

  • Dwellers movement, the Anti-Privatization movement, etc.10) and the unification and consolidation of a new revolutionary force in Azania (which this writer believes would include the revolutionary forces from the social movements and the Black Consciousness Movement, and more developed political forces like the Socialist Party of Azania, Socialist Azanian Youth Revolutionary Organization, and the Demo-cratic Left Front). This entails:

    Providing resources when and where possible, particularly finan-cial resources in support of the organizing work of the social movements and revolutionary formations;

    Challenging the hegemony of the ANC and the Tripartite Alli-anc