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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 12, No. 42, 28 November 2013

In this Issue:

   

Red Alert

Uniting workers behind the programme of radical transformation: Confronting the challenges

By Aluta Msebenzi

The struggle for radical transfromation - Key challenge of our time

We are involved in a complicated transition period which began in April 1994 when our people led by the ANC attained political power. It is a period which has now entered its second phase for a radical transformation of the economy and a phase which will require transforming the present and persisting apartheid-colonial economy - i.e. shifting the control of the economy from the hands of the minority to the majority.

This is also a period where the workers around the world are under relentless attack from their class enemy - the capitalist class. The attack by the capitalist class is an attempt to respond to the global economic crisis which they inflicted upon themselves. In this attack the workers are blamed for the crisis not of their own making. Everywhere, especially in North America and Europe, the wages of workers are being pushed downwards, pensions and benefits cut. Millions of workers have lost and are still losing their jobs and others are casualised. The public sector is being downsized and privatised.

In South Africa a million workers lost their jobs when the economic crisis began in 2008. Indeed the bosses' profits were also hit hard, especially in the mining and manufacturing sectors. The bosses blame the economic crisis on workers' rights, including strike action, and on the material gains the workers have made in terms of above-inflation wage increases, collective bargaining and so on.

The situation in the mining sector, which led to Marikana tragedy and the emergence of a 'vigilante trade unionism' must be understood within the context of the capitalist attack against the working class and trade union movement as a whole. Attack on NUM in particular is an attack on COSATU in general.

At the same time this is a context where the crisis of capitalism provided the ANC-led government with an opportunity to pursue a programme that builds and strengthens the public sector, rather than privatise and outsource its services; a programme that prioritises job creation and re-industrialisation to reverse policies that de-industrialised the economy. It is a programme committed to expanding basic services to our people and a National Health Insurance that will bring about free and quality national health care to all South Africans. It is a programme that expanded social grants to 16-million of our population.

It is a programme committed to realise a vision of full employment, eliminating poverty and creating an egalitarian society in the next few decades. All these commitments require a radical transformation of our economy driven by the ANC-led Alliance.

All of us in the Alliance agree on the need to pursue the struggle for the second radical phase of transition whose outcome will depend on a programme which unites all our people and in which the working class will play the leading role.

In the present situation, the role of each organisation in the Alliance is therefore critical. For organised working class, the critical task remains that of building a united, powerful, class conscious and militant COSATU. Our Federation has since its formation drew in its ranks hundreds of thousands of workers organised in various sectors of the economy and the state.

In organisational terms, we have always advanced a viewpoint that a class conscious and militant leadership, from the shop-floor upwards, needs to be present in all trade union sectors organised under the banner of our federation if we are to play the role of a united, powerful, class conscious and militant COSATU.

However, it would be a disaster in the present situation if, in the name of trade union independence, COSATU and its affiliates fail to locate their role within a common Alliance programme for radical transformation.

It would also be disaster if any debate or disagreement within the Federation is allowed to undermine unity and incite a split. We must stand strong for the unity of COSATU. This is the key challenge of our time.   We must expose any activity that threatens to split the federation for what it is - a renegade activity against organised workers and our revolution!

Understanding the role of the trade union movement in the present period and beyond

  1. The basic character and role

The trade union movement in South Africa has been and remains the best organised mass contingent of the working class, and indeed of the broad progressive forces in our country. Of all mass-based organisations of the working class, a trade union is the primary organisation. The trade unions that we have built in South Africa have been, first and foremost, trade unions which are broad as possible by scope of membership and sectors they organise. In the sectors or industries progressive trade unions organise we sought to be open to all workers, irrespective race, gender, geography, income and occupation.

Therefore, the trade union movement seeks to unite all workers on sector or industrial basis, irrespective of the level of political or ideological orientation of its members. This defines their mass-based character and we must defend this character no matter the level of class conscious of its leading cadre. It is only by maintaining this basic role and character of the trade union and through workers experience in trade union struggle that we can provide fertile ground for class and political consciousness among the workers.

However this does not mean that trade unions are apolitical. They must take part in the political struggle, rather than focussing narrowly on basic economic struggle issues like wages and conditions of work. Historically speaking, the trade union movement in South Africa has always understood that racism as perpetrated by apartheid regime and exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class are two-sides of the same coin.

Even though the apartheid state was defeated in 1994, the capitalist class still retains monopoly economic power in present-day South Africa. Democracy has delivered majority rule in the political sphere, but democracy has yet to deliver majority rule in the economic sphere. This is why the struggle continues.

The capitalist class uses everything it has in its power, including constant efforts to influence the government by all means, and defending its class domination over the working class. In other words, even when we are building a new state from the ashes of the apartheid state, the democratic and working class friendly state we are trying to build is daily contested by the capitalist class.

This is why the trade union movement in South Africa, in post-apartheid South Africa, has repeatedly rejected the calls from its detractors to pull-out of the broader political conflict. Indeed we cannot stand aside, in the name of trade union independence, when the capitalist class forces (aided by the commercial media and the DA) launch an offensive against our own government.

If the trade union movement rejects being part of the broader alliance, as Comrade Joe Slovo once wrote, they 'would in fact be surrendering the leadership of the national struggle to the upper and middle strata'. Indeed, it is only through participation of the trade union movement in the national liberation alliance that the leadership and hegemonic role of the working class in the present phase of radical transformation can be strengthened.

The above perspective helps us not to confuse the relationship between the general political leadership of the working class with the specific trade union leadership. We now turn to this matter.

  1. Trade union struggle and political leadership of the working class

We have noted that trade union struggle cannot be separated from the struggle for national democratic revolution and for socialism. In this context the line between trade union politics and overall leadership of working class and society as a whole may not, in practice, appear clearer. However there is distinction between the specific trade union politics and general leadership of the revolution. A trade union movement which attempts to play these two roles will end up commuting suicide, since it would have liquidated its role and character as broad mass democratic worker organisation. It is impossible, therefore, for a trade union, including trade union federation, to attempt to play a role of revolutionary political vanguard of the working class.

In the present situation an unfortunate workerist tendency has re-surfaced within the ranks of our trade union movement that tends to conduct itself as a vanguard political party. We are saying this tendency has resurfaced because there were times in the history of the working class movement - such as the 1980s - when this tendency acquired some importance within the trade union movement, first in FOSATU and subsequently in early COSATU. One of the notions advanced by this tendency has been that trade unions should act as political parties. This notion was so discredited that it had few, if any, open supporters.

Now we see this workerist-tendency emerging in a new form - this time the tendency seeks to misappropriate our struggle languages, our communist heritage and slogans in order to position a 'workerist political party' for the trade union movement.

  1. The Party of the working class and COSATU

C0SATU has over many years since its formation recognised the true political leadership role of the vanguard of the working class - the South African Communist Party (SACP). It is through the SACP - the party committed to building Socialism in South Africa - that the workers seek political guidance for the challenges they face and the 'line of march' with regard to the general political tasks of the working class as whole.

Indeed, South African communists have for many decades played a central role in building the revolutionary trade union movement. COSATU is what it is now precisely of the outstanding contribution of South African communists.  Therefore it is no surprise that within the trade union movement, many communists are occupying leading positions, as shop stewards, provincial and national leaders, as well as officials, and are expected to lead the workers by example. They are expected be the first to strive for maximum unity of the workers and advancing the day-to-day demands of the workers, respect the internal discipline and internal processes of a trade union organisation.

Building class consciousness, socialist organisation and socialist activism, requires amongst others, joint political programmes between the SACP and COSATU and its affiliates, so as to strengthen the militant and campaigning working class movement committed to the struggle for national democracy and socialism.

  1. The economic and political struggle

We have already noted that workers in South Africa have learned through struggle experience that trade unions cannot stand and develop outside of the political movement.  By connecting the trade unions with the political movement, the workers were basically rejecting the advocates of workerism in South Africa. It was really in the 1980s that workerism sought to disconnect the struggle of the workers at the workplace from the struggle at the community level. That idea never received any serious support from the workers. Thus workers learned very well the connection between politics and economics.

It is true that during the 1980s trade union leaders in FOSATU (the predecessor to COSATU) and a number of them with Trotskyite (and anarchist) background, did propose that trade unions should remain neutral in politics. They argued that workers must focus on the workplace issues and not get involved in struggles at the community level. In advancing this argument, the workerist tendency within the trade union movement sought to politically and ideologically separate the trade union movement from the broader national liberation movement led by the ANC.

In other words their call for workers to be neutral on politics was not about 'political neutrality', but an attempt to build an independent workerist political base away from our ANC-led broader movement. Indeed over time, this project came to be known as Worker(ist) Party project, which was pursued even inside COSATU.

But we need to emphasise that this workerist party project, throughout the history of COSATU, remained a minority project. It has never at any point enjoyed popular influence within trade unionism and was confined to few unions, particularly NUMSA.

  1. Being independent and being part of the Alliance

The whole perspective of trade union 'independence' is closely related to what we said above, an attempt to divide the political and the economic. It is based on a view that a trade union movement, no matter what circumstances, must have a different policy from that of the ANC and the government it leads. Its argument, goes like this 'If you do not have a different policy, then you are not independent. Being oppositional means being independent'.

This is of course nonsensical and represents a liberal notion of 'independence'. A trade union independence we have always believed in is one that neither transforms COSATU into a conveyor belt for the SACP or ANC. The trade union independence we believe in is one that builds a militant COSATU which takes up day-to-day struggles of the workers.

This independent COSATU we believe in, however, cannot be opposed to the Alliance and therefore there is no contradiction of being independent and being part of the Alliance. There has been no such before and there is none today.

  1. The ANC and COSATU

We have noted the relationship of the SACP and COSATU, but what of the ANC and trade union movement? First of all, we need to understand the basic character of the ANC as a multi-class organisation - presenting no single ideology or class. As the head of the national liberation alliance and primary representative of all the oppressed, the ANC welcomes within its ranks all from whatever class they come who support and are ready to implement the strategic vision of the Freedom Charter.

The overwhelming majority and most strategically placed of our people are workers. The ANC therefore recognises the leading role of the working class. So participation of the workers in the ranks of the ANC is one of the important ways in which the working class plays its role in the national democratic revolution. But the ANC is not the political vanguard of the working class. If it seeks to play such role, it will lose its broad-based ('broad-church') character. The ANC is a multi-class organisation with working class bias - biased to their interests and aspirations.

It is precisely of these defining characteristics of the ANC that the progressive trade union movement has always encouraged workers to swell its ranks. Therefore, it is expected that the leading cadre in the trade union movement should also be an active member of the ANC. We have understood that the leading role of workers in the national democratic revolution include active participation in the ANC, including contesting for leadership positions in the ANC, through ANC's internal democratic process. Without such leadership, to paraphrase Comrade Joe Slovo, we will be surrendering class leadership of the national democratic revolution to the bourgeoisie, with all its consequences for the working class.

We have noted above that there is no contradiction of being independent and being part of the ANC-led Alliance. In contrast, the liberal notion of trade union independence has been to reject the active role of worker leaders in our movement.

  1. COSATU and so called Civil Society

As we have noted, the liberal notion of trade union independence, ironically, tends to service the agenda of workerism. In the same token it serves the agenda of the forces of opposition and so-called civil society NGOs, who have relentlessly campaigned to separate COSATU from the Alliance.

But who is 'civil society'?

'Civil society' is not a homogenous entity - it is made of classes and strata in our divided society.  As Comrade James Petras put it, those who are talking about 'civil society' (who are mainly NGOers) tend to 'obscure these class divisions, class exploitation and class struggle that polarizes contemporary society'.  Petras observed the obscured that the concept 'civil society' conveniently facilitates 'NGO collaboration with capitalist interests which finances their institutions…'

However, there are NGOs which are largely formed to support revolutionary or progressive movements and do not compete with or oppose these movements.

In South Africa we do find a number of NGOs - involved in 'constitutional rights', 'governance' and so on which are openly right-wing, liberal, neo- and semi-liberal. They are opposed to the agenda of the ANC-led Alliance.

We are not concerned with the above NGOs, for now. We want to focus on those NGOs which go under the brand 'left', 'progressive' and 'democratic'. A number of these NGOs are orbiting around COSATU. They consists of former trade unionists, political activists and other individuals of the petty-bourgeois type. What is sometimes called 'issue-based' movements, are not actually mass-based movements, but NGOs that provide intellectual support to 'grassroots activists'.

  1. Subordinating trade union leadership to NGOs

Indeed, it is important to recognise that there are NGOs which do criticise neo-liberal policies, the IMF and so on, and therefore it will be simplistic to club them together with those that collaborate with capitalist interests. But even in such circumstances, the trade union movement must be vigilant against the agendas or projects of these 'progressive NGOs' which seek to subordinate trade union leaders to their organisations. This is the case where the agenda in the “civil society” campaigns, in which the trade union movement is a participant, is determined by these “progressive NGOs”. In fact in many cases, where campaigns are led and determined by the trade union movement, NGOs are nowhere to be seen or heard of.

In recent period, there are times when the trade union movement's leadership got caught up in agenda set and driven by “progressive NGOs” rather than the trade union movement itself such as those driven by Section 27 and Equal Education. Although some of these NGOs patronize COSATU by falsely describing the Federation as the “vanguard of civil society”, they do this to separate the Federation from our ANC-led movement, and to gain the legitimacy of their actions. And some of the public statements of some of COSATU's leadership tended to play into the hands of this agenda.

The kinds of NGOs we need to forge relations with are those that mainly exist to support the work and struggles of the trade union movement. They should not seek to compete with or displace the voice of the trade union movement. These are NGOs which must be rooted inside the mass democratic movements led by the ANC-led Alliance to ensure that their projects are not determined by external donors, but by the mass-based organisation themselves.

  1. CONFRONTING THE PRESENT CHALLENGES FACING COSATU

We have presented the major political challenge of our time - the struggle for radical transformation as we enter the second phase of post-1994 transition in our national democratic revolution - and we have identified the strategic role of the revolutionary trade union movement under the banner of COSATU in such struggle. We have also clarified the tendencies within our trade union movement which seek to turn COSATU into what it is not.

These tendencies distort not only the role of trade union movement in the current period, but consequently the relationship between COSATU and the Party of the Working Class (the SACP) and the head of our national liberation alliance (the ANC). As a result the leadership of the trade union movement face the danger of falling into the agenda of our class enemies - to separate COSATU from the Alliance, and in fact some have already fallen into this agenda. They do this by  giving COSATU the mantle of 'vanguard of civil society', or at worse to do the impossible - transforming COSATU into some kind of workersist political organisation.

Let us also note that we are talking about a tendency and not this or that individual. This characterisation of tendencies and analysis helps us to identify clear tasks we need to carry out in order to root out these destructive tendencies, irrespective of the individuals involved. Where there is ideological and political rupture within some in the COSATU leadership with the tradition and role of the progressive trade union movement, this too must be exposed as we have done in this intervention.

It is clear that the strategic direction of COSATU is contested and we must strike to the core of those who seek to divide our beloved 'parliament of the workers'.

  1. Uniting our Federation - what do we mean?

The challenges facing COSATU, therefore, have to be confronted and they are being confronted. And they all revolve around the question of uniting the Federation and isolating forces that seek to steal our federation:

Unity of COSATU means collective leadership: No leader can conduct himself or herself outside of the collective or disregard the decisions of the collective, or demand to be judged by his or her own values instead of those set by the collective. In doing so - i.e. the contrary, such a leader will immediately undermine the internal processes of the organisation and elevate himself or herself above the organisation - often demonstrated by a public posture that paints the picture the organisation than it is. Such leaders sometimes project themselves as above the organisation and are liable to be co-opted into anti-movement agendas (like the tendency we have presented above), wittingly or unwittingly.

We have said collective decision means adhering to the decisions arrived at by the collective and democratically: This include matters related to deployment. Deployment as opposed to employment is not a matter of choice of an individual. Leaders do not choose where and when they should be deployed, it is structures of organisation at appropriate levels which decide where and when a comrade should be deployed.

Unity means isolating those against unity! It is an open secret that there are elements (of syndicalist type) within the Federation who are basically inciting a split within the Federation. They opportunistically use that current situation in the Federation to justify separation from COSATU and the Alliance as whole. These elements must be roundly condemned and exposed for what they are - renegades bent on destroying our federation and weakening our revolution.

Unity, above all, must be based on a programme: This means we can only unite our federation if we take up the concerns and needs of the workers around a programme committed for a radical transformation. Aspects of this programme are contained in our COSATU Congress resolutions and the 2015 Plan. This programme is further taken forward through the Alliance, especially the recent Alliance Economic Summit which provides a basis for a common Alliance programme beyond 2014 elections.

Unity means unconditional support for ANC decisive majority victory in 2014! It means mobilisation of a massive campaign force from COSATU and its affiliates, to ensure not only the Election Manifesto reflects working class bias, but that we deliver a more than 70% landslide victory against forces of reaction and doom!

Aluta Msebenzi is an all-round Alliance member of a Cosatu affiliated trade union, the ANC and the SACP, and writes in her personal capacity

 

Ninety Sixth Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution

By Phatse Justice Piitso

We dedicate the ninety sixth anniversary celebrations of the great October Socialist Revolution to defeat the worldwide imperialist led offensive against our national liberation movement.

During an emotionally charged ceremony held in the city of Havana in the year 1967, few days after the brutal assassination of our most outstanding revolutionary leader of the international proletariat movement, Commander Che Guevara, the Commander in Chief of the Cuban revolution, Cde Fidel Castro, in his tribute in memory of Cde Che, had to say the following words:

"If we want to say how we want our revolutionary fighters, our militants, our men to be, we should say without any hesitation: Let them be like Che. If we want to say how we want the men of future generations to be, we should say: Let them be like Che.

If we want to say how we want our children to be educated, we should say without hesitation: We want them to be educated in Che's spirit. If we want a model of a man, a model of a man who does not belong to this time, a model of a man who belongs to future, from the heart, I say that the model, without a single blemish in its conduct, without a single blemish in its attitude, without a single blemish in its actions - that model is Che.

If we want to know how we want our children to be, we should say with all the passionate heart of revolutionaries: We want them to be like Che.

Today, forty six years after the brutal assassination of Commander Che Guevara, as we celebrate the ninety sixth anniversary of the great October socialist revolution, without any contradictions, in memory of the founder of the first socialist state of the Soviet Union, Cde Vladimir Lenin, we borrow the words of our Commander in Chief as we say:

If we want to say how we want our revolutionary fighters, our militants, our men to be, we should say without any hesitation: Let them be like Vladimir Lenin, If we want to say how we want the men of future generations to be, we should say: Let them be like Lenin.

If we want to say how we want our children to be educated, we should say without hesitation: We want them to be educated in the spirit of Vladimir Lenin. If we want a model of a man, a model of a man who does not belong to this time, a model of a man who belongs to future, from the heart, we say that the model, without a single blemish in its conduct, without a single blemish in its attitude, without a single blemish in its actions - that model is Vladimir Lenin.

If we want to know how we want our children to be, we should say with all the passionate heart of revolutionaries: We want them to be like Vladimir Lenin".

The millions of the people of the world are celebrating an epoch making event. Our people are celebrating a momentous event in the making of the modern history of mankind. The world is celebrating an event that heralded the birth of the first working class state in history. We are celebrating the achievements of the mother of all battles. The great October socialist revolution was the most victorious battle ever of the international proletariat movement.

We dedicate our ninety sixth anniversary celebrations of the great October Socialist Revolution in memory of our leader, the leader of the world communist movement, Cde Vladimir Lenin. We rise our red flag high in memory of this revolutionary son of the struggle of the working class. We rise the banner of our vanguard party as we celebrate this hallmark event in the calendar of the working class movement, in memory of all the heroic sons and daughters of the working class across the world.

These historic celebrations, of the ninety sixth anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, take place against the background of a far reaching events of great historic significance, both in our country and the whole world. The celebrations of the great October Socialist Revolution are taking place at the time of our history when imperialism and colonialism have unleashed an unprecedented offensive against the world working class movement.

The working class movement is celebrating the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution amidst the worldwide offensive led by the imperialist forces against the overwhelming majority of the suffering people of the world. The collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and in the Eastern European states twenty four years ago was a major setback to the world communist movement. This has ushered in the present hostile and the most aggressive unipolar world dominated by the US led imperialism and the international monopoly capital. As a consequence, the balance of forces has shifted significantly against the revolutionary forces across the world.

In our country and the whole world, our people are celebrating the Great October Socialist Revolution, hundred and one years after the formation of the oldest national liberation movement in our continent and the probably the world, the African National Congress. The formation of the ANC, was a culmination of a revolutionary process that saw the defeat of imperialism and Apartheid colonial domination in the Southern tip of our continent.

We celebrate this victory of the mother of all battles of the working class, ninety two years after the formation of the Communist Party of South Africa in 1921. Throughout all the decades of our struggle against colonial oppression and exploitation, our party has comprehended the strategic approach that the revolutionary struggle in our country is part of the worldwide revolutionary process whose main focus is the transition from capitalism to socialism.

We celebrate the Great October socialist revolution twenty eight years after the formation of our revolutionary federation of trade union movement COSATU in 1985. We celebrate the leading role of the working class in the struggle of our people against Apartheid colonial oppression and exploitation.

We are proud that till today the South African working class, is still an indispensable part of the rich traditions of our revolutionary struggle for national liberation.

The strategic perspective of our revolutionary Alliance to the South African specific revolutionary situation, has always been that the eventual defeat of Apartheid racist regime, was not the end but the beginning of the new forms of protracted struggle for the total liberation of our people against the legacy of imperialism and colonialism. Therefore it is important that we all appreciate the realities that the unity and cohesion of our revolutionary Alliance, is a necessary precondition for the success of our national democratic revolution.

We remember our leader Vladimir Lenin and the achievements of the Great October Socialist revolution, during the most difficult rare moments of our history when the progressive movement of the world and our national liberation movement in particular, is faced by a hostile global imperialist offensive. Neo-colonial forces have stepped up their ideological offensive against the unity of our national democratic revolution.

To achieve this counter-revolutionary objective our adversaries are working very hard to destroy the ANC, its Allies and our mass democratic movement as a whole. Counter-revolution is fermenting divisions and conflicts to undermine the unity of our revolutionary Alliance led by our national liberation movement, the ANC.

The main focus of imperialism and neo-colonial forces is to consolidate their hegemony over our political and socio-economic spheres. In the continent this agenda has always been to destroy the liberation movement more particularly in Southern Africa.

The futile attempts by the narrow minded chauvinists to divide our labour federation COSATU, and therefore the whole of our mass democratic movement to form a workers party, is nothing else but part of the wider conspiracy by counter-revolutionary forces, to undermine the glorious history of the struggle of our national liberation movement.

Throughout the world, and more particularly in the former colonies and semi-colonies, counter-revolution is working hard to reproduce colonialism into neo colonialism in all facets of our society. In our own specific circumstances, the attempts to instigate trade union movement against our liberation movement in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and our own country is a living testimony.

The imperialist ideological offensive is presenting a false theoretical view that a trade union movement can be a substitute of a vanguard political party of the working class. We therefore need to defeat this abstract ultra-left assertions that a trade union movement can assume a political leadership of a Communist party.

Ultra-left and right-wing fundamentalism is a common historic phenomenon. Both have the propensity to undermine the revolutionary processes of the struggle of the working class. What is common amongst them is that they are both counter-revolutionary tendencies. The task confronting all of us is to rebuke the vulgar concept of workerism.

A trade union movement by its nature and character cannot be a political leader of the struggles of the working class. Its immediate struggle is essentially about the improvement of the working and the living conditions of its members. In other words its primary role is to represent the interests of workers or its membership at the point of production.

Both the vanguard party and the trade union movement are the organizations whose members are the working class. But what is important to understand is that their place and role in relation to the immediate and long term struggle of workers is not and cannot be the same. The vanguard party is the most advanced political party of the working class.

The attempts to form a workers party in our own peculiar conditions of the South African political situation is nothing else but the desperate acts of agent provocateurs. The dangers of sectarianism is that it only confines itself to phrase mongering without analysing the concrete conditions in a particular conjuncture of our history. Sectarianism has the propensity to isolate our revolutionary movement from the masses of our people.

It is a tendency which is contrary to the true values and traditions of our liberation movement. The material conditions in the current phase of our transition require a more rigorous determination by all revolutionaries to defend our revolution. We are duty bound to defeat the cancer of ultra-left tendencies that seek to reverse the gains of our national democratic revolution. Our history of struggle against the apartheid regime has demonstrated that unity is the only weapon to defeat imperialism and neo-colonialism.

It is becoming a dangerous phenomenon from within the ranks of our national liberation movement to present our revolutionary Marxist-Leninist scientific theory as a dogma and not a guide to action. It is always important to understand the dialectical distinction between compromises that will consolidate our revolutionary process and those which will enhance the hegemony of our enemy forces.

It is counter-revolutionary to put conditions that before our members can vote for the ANC in the forthcoming national general elections, our movement should first and foremost pronounce itself to be a socialist revolutionary party. Our national democratic revolution requires the alliance between the working class and our proletariat and also the alliance with the democratic sections of the middle strata and the patriotic bourgeoisie.

In his thesis on what is to be done, dogmatism and freedom of criticism, Cde Vladimir Lenin, the revolutionary leader of the world communist movement presents the following profound theoretically formulation:

"We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance almost constantly under their fire.

We have combined, by a freely adopted decision, for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not of retreating into the neighbouring marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation.

And now some among us begin to cry out: Let us go into the marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: What backward people you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road! Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh.

In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don't clutch at us and don't besmirch the grand word freedom, for we too are “free” to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turning towards the marsh.”

During the 3rd Conference of the African People held in Cairo in 1961, our most outstanding leader of the African liberation movement, the leader of the liberation movement of Guinea Bissau, Cde Amilcar Cabral, also expressed the following most profound revolutionary words:

"Victories or failures, we must not forget that not one of our enemies has been really and totally conquered and driven out of Africa. The fascist-colonialist Portuguese are con­tinuing to massacre our peoples in Guinea, Angola and Mozambique; the fascist-racists of South Africa are daily strengthening their hateful apparatus of apartheid; the Belgian colonialists have returned to the Congo from which they had been driven out.

The British imperialists and colonialists are using every twist of imagination and cynicism in an attempt to maintain their complete domination over East Africa and their economic domination of the West African colonies, the French imperialists and colonialists are killing defenceless people in Algeria, exploding atomic bombs on the African soil, trying to create a new geographical, historical and technical absurdity-the 'French province' of the Sahara-and increasing their economic domination over some of our African peoples, the American imperialists are emerging from the shadows and, astonished by the weakness of their partners, are seeking to replace them everywhere, with varying degrees of subtlety.

Our enemies are determined to strike mortal blows against us and to turn our victories into defeat. To attain this goal, they use the most suitable instrument-African traitors. And here is a reality that is made more evident by our struggle".

As our enemy is determined to strike mortal blows against us and turn our victory into defeat, as the enemy has unleashed all the suitable instruments of African traitors, ours is a task to defend the unity of revolutionary Alliance. But it can't be given or taken; it can't be to “do this or otherwise we do not vote for the ANC”; if need be, therefore, those who want to go into the marsh, are at the end free to do so, but our revolutionary Alliance has the task to defend our national democratic revolution not only against the marsh but also against those who are turning towards the marsh.

Therefore our people should understand all these desperate attempts to divide COSATU and form the workers party or some sort of another organisation, as part of the worldwide imperialist led offensive against national liberation movements. The only thing to do is to unleash ourselves to defend the unity and cohesion of our federation and the entire liberation movement.

Revolutionaries are the most patient rare spices. In a revolutionary situation there is nothing too late. We all have to invoke our inner consciousness and work to preserve the unity of our national democratic revolution. We are confident that through the leadership of the masses of our people, the unity of COSATU and our revolutionary Alliance will eventually triumph against adversity.

What we are confident about is that our people are the most consistent and reliable, we are confident that our people have the capacity to distinguish a revolutionary process and a counter-revolution. Our people will never allow any counter-revolutionary tendencies to hold our revolutionary advance at ransom.

Our national liberation movement as led by the ANC is the only formidable political formation with the capacity to lead the struggle of our people into the future. Our movement is the only one with the necessary capacity to reverse back the centuries-old legacy of imperialism and colonialism in our country.

In memory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, we will vote for the ANC!

In memory of our leader, the leader of the world communist movement Vladimir Lenin, we will vote for the ANC!

In memory of our outstanding revolutionary guerrilla fighter Commander Che Guevara, we will vote for the ANC!

In memory of the revolutionary son of the African revolutionary movement Amilcar Cabral, we will vote for the ANC!

In memory of the founding fathers of our national liberation movement, we will vote for the ANC!

In memory of the heroes and heroines of our struggle for liberation, we will vote for the ANC!

In memory of the unity and cohesion of our revolutionary Alliance and our national democratic revolution, we will vote for the ANC!

Phatse Justice Piitso is the former Ambassador to the republic of Cuba and the former provincial secretary of the SACP writing this article on his personal capacity.

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