Volume 11, No. 44, 29 November 2012
Beneath the DA's political Botox
By Malesela Maleka
One of the great legacies left to us by Cde Joe Slovo is the requirement that we properly understand and provide answers to the complexity of the South African situation: revolutionaries would have to understand the class content of the national question and the national content of the class question. In other words, their dialectical relationship helps us to correctly navigate vexed questions of the goals of our liberation.
Over recent years South Africans have witnessed an effort by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to rebrand itself as a political party that in racial terms serves the interests of all. With this manipulative and ideological botoxs, the DA has strongly operated from the position that South Africa's problems are devoid of their class and historical contexts.
The DA has conducted a massive exercise in selective amnesia about the historical injustices perpetrated by apartheid colonialism. The oppression, domination and exploitation of the blacks in South Africa have its roots in the economic structure of our country. It is this willful blindness to the blindingly obvious intersection of race, class and gender that accounts for why the DA tries to frame South Africa in post-racial terms. And it is why the DA's economic policies are confined to tinkering with cosmetic poverty reduction, while being deafeningly silent on inequality and class exploitation.
Instead the DA would have rather have us believe that the growing inequality is a sequel of dynamic changes in the global economy that rewards the highly skilled. This logic accounts for their misplaced attacks on the public education system, its objective challenges notwithstanding, and the renewed focus on the so called "knowledge economy".
Essentially this is a continuation of a pre-1994 liberal bourgeois mindset that assumed the "solution" to South Africa's problems is through a strategy that did in no way challenge the capitalist socio-economic and political status quo.
The latest twist in the DA's extreme makeover exercise has been the appointment of Lindiwe Mazibuko as party leader in parliament, and the announcement that Nosimo Balindlela (opportunistically and shamelessly donated by Cope's Terror Lekota) is mobilizing to build strong DA branches in rural areas, and the recent choreographed election (or rather co-option) of more black candidates at the recent DA conference.
The DA is using these developments in a desperate contortion to distance itself from any suggestion that it is a conservative party that represents a class agenda essentially serving a tiny white minority.
Poverty and inequality are increasing in South Africa mainly among formerly racially oppressed groups, and yet the DA has neither the intention nor the ability to frame economic and social policies even obliquely aimed at extricating millions of our people from the misery of impoverishment. Instead the DA has parroted economic policies of the sort that are responsible for the economic crisis in Europe, a crisis that continues to deepen.
The DA advances the 8% growth myth in its plan as part of an intervention to lift millions of our people from the daily hardships they endure through their slogan "make the market work for the many, not just the few". But this is a disingenuous proposition, refuted by decades of empirical evidence of just how the markets do actually operate. The markets have never worked for anybody except capitalist owners, corporations and their shareholders. The current global capitalist crisis is as a result of unquestioned adherence to the myth of benign capitalism. As we now see, even the social democratic welfare states of the Nordic countries cannot sustain their attempts to put a human face on capitalism, and are destroying public health and welfare services because in the final analysis they run counter to the logic of the capitalist system. This is where liberalism, especially its white variant Iike that of the DA, has always sought to betray the interests of the overwhelming majority of our people.
Incidentally whilst the DA preaches the virtue of the market and free choice, all its political predecessors, right up until 1994, never believed in majority rule. Instead they always advocated majority rule for whites, BUT a qualified franchise for the black majority.
With the majority of our people being working class and poor, and black, the argument that the capitalist market must lead is purely an argument in favour of the interests of the capitalist class, a class that continues to be mainly white, just as it was under apartheid.
The rise in poverty and inequality, though, has happened mainly among black South Africans. The Census report of 2011 shows that there are huge disparities in income levels between black and white. The DA however remains opposed to efforts to close the wage gap. In fact they have tirelessly campaigned for the introduction of legislative means to even lower wages for blacks through labour brokering and so forth. The DA has after all never took up the cudgels on behalf of the super-exploited black farm workers, but instead has firmly stood on the side of the white farmers, like in the current legitimate struggles of the De Doorns farm workers against the brutal exploitation by the baases and madames the DA stands for.
Access to healthcare remains extremely inadequate and the majority in this country who are black do not have access to quality healthcare. The DA, which for electoral purposes claims to represent all, remains opposed to the reform of the public healthcare system and the introduction of the National Health Insurance. Its Health Policy states:
"The DA's proposals require the state to provide an overall regulatory framework which would create a transparent and competitive environment, deliver some services and fund health care for the poorest citizens. It would also require the state to meet the overall strategic needs of the health system, and in particular, ensure that our human resources needs are met, that we have an adequate, affordable supply of medicines, and that the health system is properly geared up to meeting our key health challenges.
Within this environment the private sector would co-operate with the state to deploy its expertise, currently only available to a small number of paying patients, to provide quality health care on a far larger scale."
This is quite out of sync with the claims so propagandistically trumpeted by the leadership of the DA. The SACP and its allies argue for a healthcare system that is not based on the logic of profit but of meeting people's needs. In order for us to run an efficient, accessible public healthcare system the 10-point plan that seeks to address issues of infrastructure, management and availability of healthcare professionals remains crucial and must be supported.
The DA is as inconsistent on land as it is on affirmative action. While its policy positions attempts to make the right noises about redress and promises to get financial assistance to small farmers, its economic policy outlook is clear. The DA advocates for a smaller government that should stay out of the economy. This means its promise to engage financial institutions on behalf of emerging black farmers or subsistence farmers rings hollow. It is precisely the DA's insistence to keep the state out of the financial sector that makes nonsense of its pledge to assist rural communities in their struggle for land and food security.
The DA's opposition to affirmative action is rooted in the party's denial of the necessity of redressing historical injustice. This failure is linked to the DA's inability to appreciate the class fault lines and their racial manifestation in SA. The irony is that while the DA denies the correct application of affirmative action within broader society, it is applying affirmative action within its own ranks for narrow electoral purposes. It has taken young black members in the DA and fast tracked them into the upper echelons of the party structures so as to hold up the façade of racial diversity in what essentially remains a party of white and minority interests.
Even the international outlook of the DA is supportive of fascist tendencies, like its support of Zionist Israel against the legitimate aspirations of the oppressed Palestinian people. The DA has consistently and firmly defended the apartheid Israeli regime in its brutal suppression of the Palestinian people.
It is for the above reasons that no matter what makeover the DA tries to make, at it's core it remains the Party of the white baases and madames, and a strong supporter of neo-fascist causes like that of apartheid Israel.
Malesela Maleka is the YCL NC & NWC Member and SACP Spokesperson
Strengthen the struggles against escalating imperialist aggressiveness, for satisfying peoples' socio-economic-democratic rights and aspirations, for Socialism
Speech delivered by Chris Matlhako on behalf of the SACP at the 14th International Communist and Workers Parties Meeting, 22 - 25 November 2012 Beirut, Lebanon
The SACP expresses its profound gratitude to the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP), its leadership and militants for creating such excellent conditions and convening the 14th Meeting of ICWP here in Beirut, Lebanon.
We also want to appreciate the vote confidence displayed by the sizable number of parties that have taken efforts (under extreme and difficult conditions of crisis and the instability in the region) to come to Beirut - and therefore express their solidarity with the host-nation Lebanon, and by taking part in this process - thereby also expressing their solidarity with the people of the entire Middle East region, who face deep and profound consequences of the systemic crisis of capitalism and naked imperialist militarism on a unprecedented level. The role of imperialism together with the undemocratic Gulf monarchies and others in the Syria and with their sights set on Iran, poses a huge crisis not only for the region but the entire world.
From the onset, we want to express our profound solidarity with the parties of the region, their people's and the struggles waged against the daily machinations of imperialism, as it tries to impose itself and seek to redraw the geo-political character of the region according to its own designs. We are confident that the people's of this region will triumph and overcome the current situations they find themselves in today.
We particularly, we wish to register our deepest anger at apartheid Israel's continued illegal war against Palestinian peoples and Gaza in particular. Once again, Israeli jets and missiles have been pounding Gaza. In 2008, 'Operation Cast Lead' led to almost 1,500 deaths - the majority of them civilians, despite all the claims made about 'surgical strikes' against terrorist targets. The Gaza Strip is one of the most impoverished and densely populated areas in the world and it is absolutely impossible to separate 'terrorist facilities' from the residential areas that surround them. With all the sophisticated weapons at the Israelis' disposal, the majority of causalities in the current campaign are also women, children, and the old. Not that this concerns the militarists at the head of the Israel state. Gaza is once again being collectively punished, as it has been not only through the previous onslaught but through the blockade which has crippled its economy, hampered efforts to rebuild following the devastation of 2008, and kept the population at near starvation levels.
Also, over the years, we have come to note and understand that at every opportunity to reinforce a rightwing majority and rule in Knesset, Zionist forces in Israel start a war on the eve of elections as a campaign to whip up emotions and stir up Zionist sentiments in Israel. With the elections set for January 2013, Netanyahu and his rightwing forces found it within their wisdom to wage an illegal war, as they have done in the past, against the Palestinians and therefore cause irreparable and untold damage on Palestinian territories, further terrorize the population, seize Palestinian lands for establishment and encroachment of Israeli-settlements.
This 14th ICWP meeting must emerge from here with much more than a strong statement denouncing the apartheid Israel's war against Palestinian people's, but should elaborate and sustain an international programme throughout next year (2013), which should target Zionist Israel, its interests across the world through supporting efforts such as Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS), consider mounting mobilization and actions for the expulsion of and/or cessation of diplomatic ties with Israel and other measures were applicable, which must bring pressure to bear on apartheid Israel through an a coordinated international campaign. Our parties, together with allies and progressive anti-imperialist forces must take these measures to a higher level in the coming period.
The SACP shares much of the views of many parties expressed here regarding imperialist offensive against the people and their organizations. The offensive and attacks have manifested in various ways and taken an even more vicious character. In the context of South Africa, the 100-year old African National Congress (ANC), which will convene for its 53rd Conference in December 2012, has come under vicious attacks from imperialism and its proxies both in South Africa and abroad. The Tripartite Alliance which consists of the ANC, the South African Communist Party and COSATU - the progressive trade union federation, has since the 2007 52nd ANC Conference, which ushered in comrade Jacob Zuma as president, and subsequently reorientated policy towards addressing the interests of the majority, after almost 8 years of neoliberal experimentation, confronted (... and continues to confront) a series of provocations, undermining and downright counter-revolutionary agitation. This offensive against the national liberation movement broadly, is meant to create a situation of chaos, violence and confusion, that would allow a favourable climate to launch and open offensive against the South African NDR and thereby reverse the gains of democracy in South Africa and rollback, if not nub efforts towards radical socio-economic transformation coming period.
It is our view that, imperialism has come to the conclusion that the ANC must be destroyed and therefore, the trajectory of change underway in South Africa must be thwarted and hollowed out. This emerges from among others, the growing role of influence and significance of democratic South Africa on the continent and as part of an emerging potential international counter-weight to imperialism. This role and stature, of South Africa in the region and beyond poses a particular threat to imperialism, if it continues with a trajectory which gradually claws back ground and reasserts the goals of national liberation movements in the region.
We have confirmed at our recently held 13th Congress, that the Party will continue to support the ANC led Alliance as the most potent force in the hands of our people to transform their quality of life and transform the social-economic relations in favour of the majority. This, we appreciate will also be a protracted process, uneven and indeed contested by various forces, including those who seek to orientate the ANC differently as an instrument for personal accumulation, through a compradorial, rent-seeking and politically connected networks. These perspectives are captured in our Political Programme - the South African Road to Socialism (SARS) and are a further elaboration of the long held positions of our Party developed over many years of struggle.
It is for this reason and others, we argue, we should understand the provocative actions of international monopoly capital and imperialism which takes on various forms across the landscape of the political-economic, cultural and related terrains. After almost centuries of colonialism- apartheid and recent neoliberal experimentation, democratic and progressive South African trajectory, was always going to be contested. The antithesis to this, the SACP characterizes as a struggle to undo the legacy of colonialism of special type (CST- trajectory) while simultaneously creating conditions to advance, deepen and consolidate the national democratic revolution - which we consider as the most direct route to Socialism in our conditions.
The 13th Congress of the SACP correctly outlined these in the Political Programme, the South African Road to Socialism (SARS), when it articulate; "The struggle for socialism against imperialist barbarism is an international struggle. But, there is no single road to socialism. The working class and progressive forces in each country must develop their own strategic approach, their own national road to socialism" (pg. 5)
We also want to crystalize the ongoing crises that are unfolding on the continent which will require our continued analysis, study and further development. During the past few weeks, the imperialist inspired and directed crisis unfolded in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and has all the hallmarks of past meddling and dabbling of imperialism and its proxies. The role of Rwanda is not innocent in this debacle and as such confirms our long held views of it being a stooge of imperialism and extension of the designs of imperialism in the Great Lakes region. The Sudanese Communist Party can also attest to the dangerous situation developing in the Abyei region which will devastating consequences for the people's of both Sudan and South Sudan.
Similarly, the attempts by imperialism to seek to reinsert itself in West Africa via the peacekeeping initiative led by ECOWAS of in Mali (which the majority of Malians have rejected), is but a pretext to regain ground after grounded was lost in other parts of the region. The continuing constitutional debacle in Tunisia, is also hampering progressive and left forces there to reassert democratic rights and other, which under threat from the religious fundamentalists. These comrades are but part of overall strategy of imperialism in crisis and thus very dangerous. This requires as we correctly observed in the title and slogan of the 14th ICWP meeting, the strengthening of the struggles against escalating imperialist aggressiveness, for satisfying peoples' socio-economic-democratic rights and aspirations, for socialism!
Socialism is the future!
Chris Matlhako is the 13th Congress CC and Politburo member