The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

South Africa:
Tensions and Contradictions within the ANC-led Ruling Alliance

Jul 5, 1999

Today, South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where there is a large communist party which has not abandoned, so far at least, the hammer and sickle nor references to its communist tradition. Moreover, this Communist Party (CP) is part of the country's ruling alliance, led by the African National Congress (ANC). This ruling alliance also includes the country's largest trade-union federation, COSATU, which plays a role in the alliance similar to that of a political party.

All these unusual features are inherited from the country's recent past. The ANC-led government, elected only five years ago, took over from the regime which had ruled over the country since 1948, enforcing the complex legal system of racial segregation which made up apartheid. The end of apartheid itself was the consequence of a series of social explosions involving large sections of the country's poor masses, and more specifically its relatively large working class. But these poor masses were given no say in shaping post-apartheid South Africa. On the contrary it was shaped by four years of negotiations between representatives of the white South African bourgeoisie and those of the organizations which had emerged as the leadership of the poor masses (that is, mainly the ANC, CP and COSATU). Setting up institutions and mechanisms which would protect South African and imperialist capitalist interests, the final political settlement opened the way to the country's first multi-racial election, in 1994. In this election, the overwhelmingly black majority of the electorate handed over power to the anti-apartheid alliance led by the ANC.

In June this year, the second multi-racial election gave the ANC-led alliance an even larger majority. It increased its share of the vote from 62.7% to 66.4%. The political forces left over from the days of apartheid were unable to mount a serious electoral challenge. The old ruling party of apartheid, now called the New National Party, polled only 6.9% – compared to 20.4% last time round. Neither could the Democratic Party, which used to represent the liberal whites under apartheid, present an electoral challenge to the ruling alliance. Having appropriated many of the New National Party's reactionary themes – like the return of the death penalty and an overtly anti-trade union and anti-communist stance – the Democratic Party took a proportion of the New National Party's vote, but even then its score was only 9.5%. In fact not one of the fifteen parties which stood in opposition to the alliance managed to reach even 10% of the total vote.

That being said, the large poll for the alliance concealed considerable lack of enthusiasm among the electorate.

There was a huge decrease in the numbers who actually registered to vote, down from 23.7 million who registered in 1994, to just 18 million in 1999. Even the difficulties presented by the new registration procedure – the bar- coding of identity documents – cannot explain why nearly 6 million people, over a quarter of the potential electorate, did not show up.

The only conclusion one can draw, and this is borne out by the pre-election press reports, is that many people, particularly among the youth, did not register because they saw no point to the exercise. Such a large section of the population failing to use their vote in a general election – only the second time in history that they have this possibility – can only be taken as a measure of the level of disillusionment amongst the population.

Discontent with the policies of the alliance's leadership has been expressed within the ranks of the alliance itself for several years. This is not, in itself, new. The alliance has had its "dissenters" in the past, particularly COSATU activists who argued that the working class needed to have its own voice, independent from the nationalist leadership of the ANC. But such "dissenters" had always been kept to the side (or even suppressed) in the name of unity against the apartheid regime. Today, however, with this pretext gone, opposition within the ranks of the alliance appears more openly. So far, at least as far as we can see, criticism of government policy from within the CP and COSATU has resulted only in a series of internal factional struggles. However, these dissenting currents may also be seeking to express the discontent which the anti-working class policies implemented by the ANC-led alliance have created among the poor population.

The Making of the ANC-CP Alliance

The relationship between the ANC and the CP is a very long-standing one, going all the way back to the 1920s, when the Stalinist leadership of the Third International instructed communist parties to woo nationalist forces in the colonized countries. In South Africa, one of the first black South African communists was elected secretary general of the ANC in 1927.

However, it was after World War II that this relationship took an organizational form. In 1950, two years after the National Party had come to power on a platform advocating apartheid, the Suppression of Communism Act effectively made the communist party illegal. Its members, who set up an underground organization, joined the ANC, which was still legal, under the auspices of the "Congress Alliance" (which included the small mainly CP-led Congress of South African Trade Unions). Then, in 1960, the ANC was itself banned, which led its leadership to embark on a more radical strategy. In 1961, the ANC launched Umkhonto weSizwe ("the spear of the nation"), as its armed wing, with Nelson Mandela as "commander-in- chief." Sabotage was to be organized, targeting government offices associated with apartheid and "economic targets" like electrical towers. In this work, CP activists played a decisive role. They were better equipped for underground activity due to their training, and they had a well-structured and disciplined organization, which the ANC did not have. More important still, the CP had access to the resources of the Soviet Union, in terms of finance, training and contacts with other nationalist movements in neighboring countries.

Underground work, therefore, tightened the links between the CP and ANC. By the late sixties the CP had begun to play such a prominent role in Umkhonto weSizwe and the ANC apparatus abroad that it more or less operated as the ANC's organizational backbone, to the extent that it took control of its military wing. Subsequently, its control over the ANC training camps in the African front-line states allowed the CP to recruit many youths to the ANC, but also to its own ranks, following the 1976 uprisings in Soweto and other townships. As a result of all this, the CP represented, in the seventies and early eighties, the driving force within the ANC – a driving force which was totally integrated within the ranks of the ANC and tended to dominate its leadership. Both the ANC and the CP were then primarily operating in exile.

Of course, there were occasional anti-communist reactions and factional struggles within the ANC. But on the whole, even leaving aside the material advantages that the ANC got from the Soviet Union thanks to this arrangement, the relations between the two organizations ran smoothly. The policy of the CP certainly posed no problems for the nationalist ANC. After all, ever since the degeneration of the Communist International in the 1920s, following Stalin's seizure of power in Russia, communist parties in the "colonial" countries had been defending the so-called "two-stage theory." In short, communist parties were to support the struggle of the national bourgeoisies against imperialism unconditionally in order to achieve a "national democratic revolution" (stage one). Only once the poor countries' national bourgeoisies were in power and in a position to develop the national economy and democratic institutions, should the communist parties begin to struggle towards socialism in the "name of the working class" (stage two). South Africa was seen as a particular case, where apartheid amounted to "colonialism of a special type." The task of the CP was therefore first of all to defeat apartheid, leaving aside all other social objectives. This orientation meant that the CP was to unite its forces with those fighting apartheid, that is, with the ANC. And of course this policy meant that the CP effectively subordinated the interests of the working class to those of the black petty-bourgeoisie, aspiring to be its future exploiters.

COSATU and the CP

COSATU was born out of the explosion of working class militancy in the eighties. The activists who led the struggles in this period had themselves been shaped by what had happened in the seventies, when the working class had been in a state of almost continuous mobilization engaging in waves of spontaneous strikes and setting up multiple unions in almost every sector of the economy.

This militant wave had been strong enough to force the apartheid regime to grant limited official recognition to the trade unions by 1979. Many of the unions joined to form one of the forerunners of COSATU, the Federation of South African Trade Unions, or FOSATU. These events happened outside the influence of the ANC-CP, who were building their apparatus in exile and were almost entirely absent from events inside South Africa.

The resurgent working class militancy of the eighties was even more determined. The National Union of Mineworkers, established in the early eighties, engaged in a wage dispute in 1984 which involved 45,000 workers, led to pitched battles with the police who killed nine strikers, and developed into a near general strike. It was almost entirely thanks to such struggles that the apartheid regime (under pressure from the mining conglomerates) made numerous significant concessions, including the abolition of the pass laws (which had imposed drastic restrictions on the black population's freedom to move around the country). And it was in the heat of this new explosion of militancy that COSATU was formed, in 1985, bringing together the large new unions, including the now mighty mineworkers union, and the smaller independent unions organized in FOSATU.

On the basis of the impressive demonstration of strength which the working class had just made, syndicalist ideas became widespread among the new generation of worker activists. These "workerists," as they came to be known, had seen what power they could wield through their collective fights, and they saw no need for political organizations other than COSATU, especially when these organizations had played no part in the militant struggles. On the other hand they had a very strong sense of class identity; and they felt little common ground with the "professors" in exile who were flooding them with nationalist slogans and proposing to get foreign governments and the United Nations to isolate the apartheid regime. On both accounts, they were suspicious of the ANC-CP activists who had started to reappear on the scene. But the CP did have an enormous advantage when it started a drive to gain influence within COSATU: they had an organization and many activists trained in exile whom they could send to work in factories and take positions in the mushrooming unions.

But more important, no political organization proved capable of proposing a class perspective to the newly- politicized COSATU activists, no real alternative to the nationalist perspective advocated by the ANC-CP. There were a few who did try to challenge the growing nationalist influence, mostly from a Trotskyist background – the "internationalists" as they were called. And the task they were faced with was certainly daunting compared to their real forces. But instead of defending the need for a workers' party capable of pulling the poor masses behind the working class in the fight to overthrow the apartheid regime and transform social relations, these activists ended up seeking the support of the "workerists" without challenging their ideas, thereby leaving the ANC-CP to monopolize the fight against the apartheid regime.

When the apartheid government clearly began looking for a way out of the situation of permanent revolt amongst the black population in the mid-eighties and made moves to negotiate with the ANC, the very idea of such negotiations generated suspicion in the ranks of COSATU. A current opposed to any concessions to the apartheid regime emerged, advocating instead the seizure of power by the anti-apartheid organizations.

However, the revolutionary left, whose task should have been to offer a perspective to this opposition current, proved that it, too, had illusions in the nationalists. One contributor to the exile magazine Free Azania wrote in November 1989: "There could never in South Africa be a coalition government between the ANC and the bourgeoisie – though many ANC leaders might earnestly desire it. Put another way, we cannot conceive of conditions which would permit the creation of an ANC government on a bourgeois basis." These activists found all sorts of "theoretical" justifications for this assertion: for example, that apartheid was a precondition for the South African bourgeoisie to make profits and that therefore the fall of apartheid would lead to the collapse of the capitalist class. Of course, this ignored the possibilities offered by the world market to the big South African bourgeoisie. But above all it underestimated the readiness of the nationalist petty-bourgeois to turn their "nation" into a sweatshop for their own benefit and that of companies from the imperialist countries.

The activists concluded, from this line of reasoning, that the negotiations would collapse and the working class would then step into the breach. The only thing to do was... to wait. Once again, this failed to provide an alternative perspective to those who were suspicious of the negotiations. At the same time, the absence of any challenge allowed the ANC-CP to control the masses while the negotiations were under way. It was during that time that the CP made its way into the leadership of COSATU and its main affiliates. Another opportunity to shake the hold of nationalism in the working class had been missed.

The Alliance in Power

During the protracted transitional negotiations, the ANC effectively dropped all its previous radical language, including objectives which had been part of its very moderate "Freedom Charter," such as vague references to nationalization and "land shared amongst those who work it." In other words, the ANC emerged as the bourgeois party it really was. But the organic alliance between the ANC and the CP remained, even though the CP's constituency certainly still expected it to stick to its own program of "eventual" socialism. There was a sort of division of labor between the two organizations. In the negotiations, they were indistinguishable. But outside the conference room, the CP increased its organizational profile, consciously raising the red flag at all mass events, particularly the many funerals of its members killed in township massacres. The apparent radicalism of the CP offered a focus for the radical youth and workers, who were watching what they saw as a "transformation" of the ANC with some alarm. The CP provided the ANC with a convenient left cover. At the same time this made the CP even more indispensable to the ANC, as the only force capable of keeping the working class and radicalized youth under control.

In the "Government of National Unity" formed by Mandela after the 1994 election, the bulk of the positions were taken by the ANC itself – 29 out of 39 posts. But a fine balance was maintained between the various components of the alliance. Important CP figures were given some of the most politically sensitive ministries like housing (Joe Slovo), defense (Ronnie Kasrils, as deputy) and public works (Jeff Radebe). The former general secretary of COSATU, Jay Naidoo, was put in charge of the new economic program – the so-called Reconstruction and Development Program – bound to involve problems with the unions. Out of a total of 400 seats in the national parliament, 76 COSATU officials had been elected as ANC candidates, while 80 others were members of the CP elected on the ANC ticket.

It is worth recalling what the Reconstruction and Development Program was all about. Particularly since it is now portrayed by those opposed to the current economic policy of the government as some kind of redistributive, if not socialist alternative.

The purpose of the Reconstruction and Development Program was, first of all, to reintegrate South Africa into the world market, after its partial isolation during the last few years of apartheid. South Africa would adopt self- imposed austerity measures, akin to those forced on other Third World countries by the IMF, in order to convince international capital to invest in South Africa. The whole state sector was to be cut by 6% immediately. Certain minor state enterprises were to be privatized, but also, eventually, so were the big state utilities. Naidoo, however, opposed the privatization of the latter, pleading with big business: "The common challenge to both business and labor is that we are reintegrating into a world economy that is both ruthless and competitive. And unless we face the challenge together, there won't be anything left to fight about." Ironically, two years later, he was to be put in charge of privatizing the post office.

There were certainly a lot of illusions about the social dimension of the Reconstruction and Development Program. It was supposed to create jobs, build houses, electrify homes, bring clean running water and sewage systems to the townships and rural districts, and bring free primary health care and education to a section of the population. But these goals couldn't be realized without a massive injection of cash. The cost of the program's initial projects was estimated to be seven billion pounds, while the available budget was only 300 million. Naidoo had an impossible task, and he knew it. But COSATU stage-managed a fervent campaign to promote the Reconstruction and Development Program, even pushing certain union delegates at their 1994 conference to make proposals for special contributions from members to the Reconstruction and Development Program fund.

While union officials were advocating further sacrifices from workers, the 1995 Labor Relations Bill banned strikes in all essential services and made strikes over dismissals illegal. But the very fact that this was considered necessary was testament to the fact that workers were not taking the Program's austerity lightly – strikes, if anything, increased in the first two years of Mandela's regime, as workers decided to get their due now that apartheid was gone.

By 1996, it was clear that foreign investors considered South Africa too much of a "high risk." Instead of capital flowing into the country, it was actually flowing out, facilitated by the removal of capital controls. So a new economic program was introduced – the "Growth, Employment and Redistribution" strategy.

The ostensible aims of "Growth, Employment and Redistribution" were to achieve a six percent annual growth rate by the year 2000 and to create 400,000 jobs. In fact, the content of "Growth, Employment and Redistribution" was not too different from what had gone before it, under the Reconstruction and Development Program. But the process of privatization and of deregulating trade and finance as well as the labor market was speeded up. Above all, "Growth, Employment and Redistribution" required severe cuts in public expenditures, particularly in the already limited funds that the Reconstruction and Development Program had made available for social programs. While Mandela insisted that "Growth, Employment and Redistribution" did not put into question the social reforms promised by the Reconstruction and Development Program, the ministry responsible for their implementation was nevertheless disbanded.

While social expenditure was cut, the rise of a new breed of black capitalists became extremely visible. Having no adequate funds of their own, the aspiring businessmen resorted to other sources with the wholehearted support of the regime and some of the country's big companies. One such source was the estimated 60 billion pounds saved by South Africa's 3.2 million union members in various pension and welfare funds. Many unions set up their own "investment arms," and the managers of these new finance companies, usually former union officials, began to line their own pockets, ostensibly in the interests of the union membership.

The mineworkers union, under the guidance of the millionaire and former leader of this union, Cyril Ramaphosa, contributed 150 million pounds to buy a stake in Johnnic, a holding company belonging to Anglo American. COSATU itself went into business with the Kopano ke Matla ("Unity is Strength") investment company, which soon became a major player in insurance, banking and tourism.

Ramaphosa put this all in a nutshell when he said: "This is a new era for all of us, what with unions going into business in their own right.... My own union, the NUM,is in business and in the Johnnic deal ... it is playing a leading role.... So I have no misgivings about getting into this new terrain as I will be working with comrades and we will be accountable to certain principles. And let's not kid ourselves, in the process, of course, you make money. But at the same time we will also be saying, our unions must also be able to make money. The NUM now is going to be swimming in millions soon."

The CP's Twists and Turns

The leadership of the CP has criticized aspects of "Growth, Employment and Redistribution," but, in the end, it justifies the development of a black bourgeois class.

In June 1997, for example , the CP journal The African Communist, criticized the government's policy of helping the development of a black bourgeoisie as follows: "This black bourgeoisie will, however, not necessarily play a progressive role. Indeed, black business tends to use very ruthless and paternalistic labor policies ... which are inconsistent with the vision of the ANC-led government. But what makes this bourgeoisie an important force within our context is the fact that it relies on the support and protection of the ANC-led government to survive.... For our government to strengthen its position in the economy – and therefore its strength vis-a-vis the formulation of economic policies – it must address the white monopoly by encouraging diversity in ownership.... The 'patriotic bourgeoisie' can be manipulated to achieve this objective. But this does not mean, as said earlier, that these forces are necessarily progressive. This is a tactical move to give the government more autonomy and control over the economy and the formulation of economic policies."

Of course, this "tactical move," to use the language of the article, is paid for at a very high price by the poor population. In order for a Ramaphosa to make millions on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, capital controls had to be removed, thereby allowing five billion pounds to leave the country annually, the equivalent of the country's mineral exports in a year. And these billions are desperately needed to provide jobs for the 38% of the working population which is officially unemployed, to build basic houses to provide a shelter for the country's three million or so homeless, to stop the catastrophic spread of AIDS in the country, etc. For each new black capitalist climbing one step up the social ladder, hundreds of the poorest people are footing the bill with increased destitution.

Besides, who is really in control – this new parasitic black bourgeoisie, or the old capitalist monopolies which have always dominated the South African economy and still do? Ramaphosa may be the big boss of Johnnic (thanks to Anglo-American), but Anglo still owns more than half of Johnnic's shares! And whatever efforts are made to diversify ownership in the South African economy, the capital will still have to come from somewhere. Workers' pension funds cannot finance everything; thus it will come from the only other available source of capital, the financial market, which is dominated, in South Africa as elsewhere, by a small number of very large international financial groups. At the very most, the new black capitalists will be the local instruments of these international groups, but that won't make them less greedy than their masters. And it certainly will not give the regime any more control over the economy.

Not everyone in the CP finds comfort in such contortions, however. One of the leading lights of the party, Jeremy Cronin, stated, for example: "At the end of the day there is no guarantee that a black bourgeoisie will be more patriotic than any other bourgeoisie. Generally the patriotism of the bourgeoisie is reserved for the Kingdom of Profit." However, Cronin then betrayed his own criticism when he went on: "Many entities, not only the state, need to exercise ownership in a socialized economy. We mentioned parastatals, provincial and municipal government, co-operatives, civics and other social collectives. Clearly there are progressive possibilities in the trade union bid for a stake in Johnnic." Apparently Ramaphosa, who made millions by taking his cut on financial speculation using funds provided by the trade-unions (as in the case of Johnnic) would be a legitimate component of Cronin's idea of a "socialized economy." But what is socialist about this kind of parasitism?

Contortions over "Growth, Employment and Redistribution" and the Election

The ANC's turn to an explicit pro-market stance has led the CP to tighten its links to COSATU. In 1997, at its sixth national congress, COSATU decided to contribute a percentage of its members' dues to the CP. However, the leaders of both organizations were quick to point out that this did not mean they intended to form a block against the ANC. It was simply aimed, according to Mbuyiselo Ngwenda (the leader of the metalworkers' union, the second largest in COSATU), at uniting socialist forces within the alliance to define a transformation program, adding, "Remember that the ANC is not socialist, but it's not anti-socialist either."

By coming out against "Growth, Employment and Redistribution," both the CP and COSATU leaderships opened up a small hornet's nest in their organizations. It encouraged a number of "dissenters" in each organization to make a drive against their own organization's lack of action against "Growth, Employment and Redistribution."

COSATU set up a commission to look into the grievances of its own members. In the end, while acknowledging that "Growth, Employment and Redistribution" was problematic for the working class, the COSATU commission merely argued that COSATU's influence inside the alliance should be strengthened. However, this was not what the anti-"Growth, Employment and Redistribution" activists had in mind. What they were actually calling in question was COSATU's continued participation in the ruling alliance. For some of them, at least, the real issue raised by the situation was, once again, the need for an independent workers' party.

These discussions did not escape the ear of Mandela. He demanded that the CP and COSATU toe the line: "For as long as I lead this government, as long as I am a member of the African National Congress, I will ensure that the government continues to implement what we believe is good for the country.... If COSATU and the CP leave the internal structures [of the alliance] and go public, and not only attack what we consider a fundamental policy of the organization, but ridicule it, you must be prepared to take full responsibility for your actions. That type of behavior makes me even more determined not to listen to you."

For good measure, a few days later, the Department of Labor director told COSATU that the government would do nothing to stop job cuts in either the private or the public sectors and reiterated the plan to lay-off 50,000 public sector workers.

Coming up to this year's general election, however, all these debates were swept under the rug. In 1998, COSATU's general secretary had argued that it would be incorrect to simply vote for the ANC "because we have a sense of history," even alluding to the possibility of COSATU putting up its own candidates against the ANC. But, by the time of the 1999 election campaign, COSATU decided to require a contribution from each member for the ANC election fund.

The CP followed the same tortuous route. At its 1998 conference, its general secretary, Blade Nzimande had voiced what was considered to be a serious criticism of the ANC's policy in the government, arguing that "the achievements of a deepening National Democratic Revolution cannot be sustained whilst the bulk of the wealth in South Africa is in private hands," and that the "attainment of fuller freedom and liberation can only be realized under a socialist society." But shortly after this conference, the party leadership replied to the "young turks" who argued for the CP to go into opposition: "The ANC, as a revolutionary nationalist movement, remains rooted among the poorest and among the broad popular classes of our society, committed to working class leadership and its anti-imperialist traditions represent an agenda for fundamental transformation of state and society. It could be argued that there is no left project in South Africa without the ANC." The CP very quickly made its position on the election clear: "In calling on workers to vote ANC, the CP is not sweeping under the carpet the fact that there are areas where we are unhappy with the government policy (like "Growth, Employment and Redistribution"), or with government delivery. A vote for the ANC is a vote for ongoing, worker-aligned change." And in the election, CP candidates ran, as usual, on the ANC ticket.

The Contradictions within the Alliance

The union apparatuses are in a contradictory situation. On the one hand they are dependent on remaining within the alliance for the many positions they have occupied in and around the state and government machineries since 1994. And the web of business interests they have built up has made them even more dependent on the benevolence of the regime. There is too much at stake for them to break away, since it would mean returning to the precarious position they occupied before 1990, although without the systematic repression – at least for the time being.

On the other hand, the union leadership knows that the ANC government will step up its austerity and its attacks on the working class once the election period is over. This inevitably means being put in the position of going against the spontaneous reactions of their memberships. While some COSATU bureaucrats would probably go along with this, it is a risky path. A rebellion within their ranks could well prove near impossible to contain. The South African unions are very young compared to American unions. Many of the members who joined in those days are still present in the ranks and will remember how to organize a real fight.

As for the CP, contrary to what happened in the underground days, it probably needs the ANC more than the ANC needs it, at least as long as there is no new explosion of militancy in the country. In the 1990s it claimed to be the fastest-growing communist party in the world, with a membership of 80,000. Last year its size was estimated at just 12 to 14,000 active members, most of whom are also active within the ANC. If these figures are accurate, and given the fact that the CP is a party of activists, it is still a considerable force. But whether that membership would remain in the party, if it broke away from the alliance, is an open question. What is certain, is that the CP would lose all its elected positions in the national and provincial assemblies and governments, at least until the next general election. Indeed, breaking away from the coalition would mean leaving the ANC, and the 1996 Constitution says explicitly that if anyone elected on a party ticket leaves this party, he has to resign his seat. This is certainly a major reason for the CP leadership to be willing to go through so many contortions in order to stay on board.

On the other hand, there are activists in the CP who seem determined to free the party from the bonds of the alliance. Coming up to the 10th CP Congress last year, a representative of the so-called "young turks" argued, that "Instead of organizing and mobilizing the working class against 'Growth, Employment and Redistribution', COSATU and the CP vainly attempt to arrive at a 'gentleman's agreement' with the ANC.... The result is that the ANC government no longer feels compelled to make concessions to working class interests, for it knows, whatever it does, despite all the protestations of COSATU and the CP, both organizations have no option but to remain tied to it. The emergence of a coherent, well-organized black parliamentary opposition party to the left of the ANC would go a long way to challenging the prevailing relations of power in South African society. Should such a party advocate a vision similar to the Reconstruction and Development Program, and should it constitute the official opposition with a sizeable minority support within the black population, the ANC would feel compelled to deal with this electoral challenge by implementing economic and social policies more sympathetic to the interests of the poor."

Of course, it is difficult from here to gauge what really lies behind such a statement – how genuine the concern is for working class interests which are expressed in it and what militant forces it might represent within the CP and beyond. In and of itself, this statement merely amounts to a proposal that the CP transform itself into a parliamentary opposition party within the present social framework, nothing more. But even this would amount to a considerable change in the context of South Africa. For the first time, the political monopoly of the ANC among the overwhelming majority of the country's poor population would be challenged by a party which includes a significant section of the most committed working class activists. It would give credit to the idea that it may be possible, after all, for the working class to have a party of its own, independent from the ANC, defending its own class interests. This party remains to be built, of course. It would have to be a new party, based on a clear revolutionary program making no concessions to the versions of nationalism promoted by the ANC and the CP. Such a party would have to set itself the task of achieving the social transformation of society needed in South Africa (and worldwide), using the methods of the class struggle. No doubt, faced with the attacks of the ANC-led government, such a proposal would make sense to many South African workers who, after all, know better than anyone else, from their own experience, that no positive change has ever come to them without their direct intervention through the class struggle.