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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 3, No. 8, 21 April 2004

In this Issue:


Red Alert

Defend, Deepen and Advance Demococracy: Consolidating the historic victory in KZN

By Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

The victory of the ANC in KwaZulu Natal in the 2004 elections, albeit not with an absolute majority, is significant and historic. It marks a decisive break with Inkatha Freedom Party rule and an important opportunity to deepen democracy and transform that province to serve the interests of the workers and the poor. It marks an end to IFP rule that has prevailed since 1977 (in the KwaZulu bantustan), and since 1994 (in the province of KZN). It is the first ever electoral defeat of the IFP and Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi since 1977, in a territory they have regarded as their own!

It is against this background that we should understand the IFP’s desperate court challenge of the election results in KZN. The IFP is just about the only bantustan party that survived the democratic breakthrough of 1994. All such other parties were completely decimated (with a partial exception of Lucas Mangope of the notorious Bophuthatswana bantustan). The IFP survived for a number of reasons.

The IFP has had a genuine mass social base in rural KZN, nurtured over years through a combination of factors. The first factor was the legal absence of the national liberation movement. Secondly, as in other bantustans, the repressive apparatuses of the apartheid regime propped it up. Thirdly, a factor that we might have only fully appreciated much later as a movement was that the IFP managed to build a strong presence and leadership over most of KZN’s traditional leaders, through a combination of patronage and co-ercion. Through the institution of traditional leadership it had access to a huge rural population controlled by traditional leaders. Fourthly, IFP rule and the “consent” it garnered from its support base was secured through a combination of control of land by traditional leaders, Zulu (militaristic and patriarchal) ideology, warlordism (from the early 1980s), all buttressed by controlling bantustan patronage networks.

We have always understood as the liberation movement that with the consolidation of democracy, with the demise of the apartheid regime and its bantustan outposts, the IFP (like the NNP), deprived of control over repressive and ideological apparatuses, would suffer gradual decline. The IFP won an absolute majority in KZN in 1994 (albeit under very dubious circumstances), and dropped to 41% in 1999, and it is now down to around 36%.

It was for all the above reasons that the IFP, backed by the apartheid regime, waged a fierce and violent struggle against the liberation movement and its democratic allies in the 1980s. When the NP was forced to concede to negotiations and later a settlement for a transition to democracy, the IFP felt betrayed. In the early 1990s it began to forge alliances with even more right-wing, neo-fascist white organizations, seeking to prevent the April 1994 elections. This included a desperate attempt to force “international mediation” to secure an independent Zulu Kingdom, something that would have placed the KZN province beyond the bounds of a democratic South Africa. The IFP, together with some of its right wing allies, entered the 1994 democratic elections as a reluctant and an aggrieved party, fearful of a democratic South Africa.

The IFP has managed to survive during the first decade of our freedom, largely because of its control over the KZN provincial government, albeit under vastly different conditions than prior to 1994. Its record of governance in the province has been dismal, an important factor in its loss of electoral support. While the IFP has a social base among workers and the poor in KZN, it is nevertheless an organization serving the interests of an elite – an alliance of different sections of the petty bourgeoisie in KZN, whose original interests converged around the KwaZulu bantustan.

The IFP leadership core is basically made up of three main class fractions. It is an alliance between a Zulu trading petty bourgeoisie, a bureaucratic petty bourgeoisie emerging and benefiting from the bantustan (and later KZN) administrative apparatus, and traditional leaders controlling and allocating land in the rural areas. From within each of these class fractions, there emerged very powerful warlords in the early 1980s, fostered by the apartheid regime through covert military operations and other forms of support. At about the same time the KwaZulu Bantustan formed the murderous IFP supporting KwaZulu police.

Precisely because of the class nature of the IFP – an organization serving primarily the interests of a petty bourgeoisie - it could not, and still cannot, effectively serve the interests of the overwhelming majority of the workers and the poor, other than using sections of these as their cannon-fodder for elite class interests.

In the run up to the 2004 elections, as the IFP sensed a possible loss of KZN province, it went back to form alliances with the right-wing Democratic Alliance. The DA is increasingly an organization that represents the former NP constituency, and is seeking to mobilize grievances within minority, predominantly white and reactionary, constituencies that feel most threatened by a democratic South Africa.

Now that the IFP has been defeated in the KZN elections it is again engaged in political brinkmanship, raising the political stakes by challenging in court the election results in the province. Through this kind of brinkmanship in the past (particularly around the final stages of the 1993 negotiated settlement) the IFP managed to squeeze some concessions from the liberation movement. The present court challenge is less of a legal than a political challenge to the victory of the ANC in the KZN province.

In the light of the ANC victory in KZN, it is absolutely urgent that the ANC must lead the process of forming an ANC-led government in the province. This is an historic advance that, however, poses important challenges, a complex articulation of old and new ones. These include the following:

The IFP is likely to retreat deeper into its only remaining, relatively secure base, traditional leadership, to protect its own shrinking mass social base and to make life difficult for an ANC-led government. The task of the ANC-led alliance in the KZN province is, therefore, to engage on this terrain but from the standpoint of the mass of the rural poor. The movement must build on the advances made during the election campaign – to reach out to the mass of ordinary rural poor. For the SACP this should be part of building the rural motive forces for transformation in the former bantustan areas.

We need sustained working class-led mass mobilization to buttress the transformation thrust of an ANC-led government in KZN

Through the above we need to deepen democracy. As cde Chris Hani used to say in the years before his death: we are not afraid of open political contest and debate, as this helps us to expose the political bankruptcy of our opponents. The victory in KZN vindicates the words of cde Chris.

At the centre of all these tasks, the engine to drive their realization, is the strengthening and deepening of the unity and programmes of the Tripartite Alliance.

Landslide ANC victory requires ongoing working class mobilisation and alliance leadership

(Adapted from SACP statement welcoming ANC victory, issued on 18 April 2004)

The ANC's overwhelming election victory represents a massive mandate to press ahead with the transformation of our society. With some 70% of the vote, it is an election victory that is broad-based, the ANC has received support from a very wide range of constituencies and social strata.

But let no-one doubt that this renewed and increased mandate has been built fundamentally on the energies, aspirations, commitment and organisation of millions of workers and poor, those who live in dusty townships, in sprawling peri-urban settlements, in rural villages and homesteads. This is the bed-rock of support for the ANC and its alliance. The ANC electoral success has been based on a dynamic and revitalised contact, over many months, between our alliance organisations and these communities.

Beginning with our president, right through to every grass-roots cadre of our alliance, we have criss-crossed our country, door-to-door. We have explained the achievements of the last 10 years, we have discussed our ANC manifesto plans, and, perhaps most importantly, we have listened to the hopes and frustrations of working people and poor.

The SACP agrees with leading ANC colleagues who have said that this victory is not a cause for arrogance. It increases our responsibilities to deliver on the commitments we have made in our election manifesto, especially in regard to creating work and fighting poverty. The trust placed in our movement is not something to be taken for granted. Moving forward, it cannot be a matter of "business as usual".

We strongly endorse President Mbeki's observation that in the coming months and years, special attention must be given to local-level governance, to local economic development, to building sustainable communities. The dynamic contact between our movement and alliance and our mass base must be sustained through active engagements and community-based programmes of action.

As the SACP we had called upon the workers and the poor to vote for the ANC for the following five main reasons:

For a strong public sector – The rich can buy what they need from the private sector. The workers and the poor need a strong public sector for education, health care, water, sanitation, policing housing and social grants. Over the last 10 years government has learnt that only in those areas where it has taken a direct lead, that we have changed the lives of our people for the better – electricity, housing, telephony and water. Much of public commentary hopes that the implementation of the ANC Election Manifesto means more privatisation. It is the responsibility of the workers and the poor to ensure that they mobilise their mass power to consolidate the public sector in their own interests.

For worker rights – the task now is to ensure that the laws that the ANC government has passed in the past are effectively implemented particularly for the benefit of most vulnerable workers, farm and domestic workers through their mobilisation and unionisation.

For land and agricultural reform – The ANC manifesto commitment to redistribute one-third of agricultural land requires the leading role of the state, mobilisation of sufficient resources and organised mass power of the rural poor.

For jobs and sustainable livelihoods – The R100 billion public investment for extended public works programmes must be focused on promoting co-operatives. The workers and the poor have to use their organised muscle to pressurise private capital to invest more in infrastructure, in our townships and rural areas for job creation and work opportunities. As the SACP, we firmly believe that the workers and the poor have a huge challenge to roll back the profit grabbing rich and push for labour intensive methods in our economy.

In the view of the SACP, these objectives requires the working class to take responsibility for its vote, by ensuring that, through its organised muscle and mass base, it is in the forefront of the implementation of the ANC Manifesto. Critically, this also requires the SACP to work towards sustained and ongoing contact with the mass of our people, through people's forums, community development forums and workers' forums. Without this, we, as a movement, will not be able to ensure that the workers and the poor are mobilised as the leading social force in driving further the transformation programme and, indeed, to ensure that this electoral victory should primarily be for their benefit. Therefore the issue of an Alliance approach and programme of implementation of the ANC Election Manifesto is also critical. All of these are part of the overall struggle towards building sustainable livelihoods and communities through accelerated transformation, implementation of the agreements of the Growth and Development Summit, support co-operatives, consolidation of the public sector and accelerated land reform.


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