South Africa’s Unfinished Democratic Revolution

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Nelson Mandela’s death has elicited fulsome tributes from those who were happy to truck with the apartheid regime when he was in prison. There’s no need to linger over their hypocrisy here. Those who supported the struggle against apartheid before it was easy or fashionable will rightly mourn a great popular leader whose personal sacrifices are well-documented. 

Yet Mandela leaves behind an ambiguous legacy for South Africa. Strongly influenced by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the triumph of neo-liberalism in the West, Mandela and the ANC leadership accepted a peace settlement that left the economic structures of apartheid in place while the political system was being democratized. Two decades after the first multi-racial elections were held, white households still earn almost $50,000 a year on average, compared to $8,000 for their black counterparts. 

This article was first published by the Irish Socialist Network as a pamphlet in 2009. Since it was written, Jacob Zuma has replaced Thabo Mbeki as South African president and ANC leader. More importantly, the massacre of 34 striking miners at Marikana in 2012 has dramatized like nothing else the yawning gulf between the ANC and the people who brought it to power. As Mandela himself warned in 1993: ‘How many times has a labour movement supported a liberation movement, only to find itself betrayed on the day of liberation? There are many examples of this in Africa. If the ANC does not deliver the goods you must do to it what you did to the apartheid regime.’ 

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Writing in 1989, the journalist Heidi Holland concluded her sympathetic history of the African National Congress (ANC) with a warning about economic policy in the post-apartheid era: ‘The greatest threat to future economic prosperity under majority rule is that blacks may have become so disillusioned by the capitalist system, identifying it with repression, that they will demand sweeping nationalization of industry.’1 Two decades later, her concerns appear totally misplaced. But they would have found support in the early remarks of Nelson Mandela after his liberation from Robben Island: ‘The nationalization of the mines, banks and monopoly industry is the policy of the ANC and a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable.’2

We know now that a reversal of the ANC’s commitment to public ownership was anything but ‘inconceivable’. The movement that led the struggle against apartheid for half a century has embraced the orthodoxy of the ‘Washington Consensus’ and governed in strict accordance with neo-liberal tenets. Whether this move is considered a welcome embrace of pragmatism or a shameful capitulation, its emphatic nature cannot be denied. Thabo Mbeki’s willing description of himself as a ‘Thatcherite’ could readily be applied to his party and government as a whole.

The practical fruits of this orientation are bitterly disputed, although a number of statistics deserve attention. Between 1994 and 2006, the number of South Africans living on $1 a day increased from two million to four million. Unemployment among black South Africans rose from 23 per cent in 1991 to 48 per cent in 2001.3 As the former ANC councilor Trevor Ngwane argues: ‘The average African household has got 19 per cent poorer in the past five years, and the average white household 15 per cent richer. Unemployment is now running at 43 per cent of the workforce, with youth unemployment up to 80 per cent in some rural areas. We’ve lost more than a million jobs. Basic food prices have been soaring. What with the public-spending cuts and the AIDS crisis, the situation in the health service is frightening.’4

A surprising if muted echo of Ngwane’s critique came from Thabo Mbeki himself, as he spoke before a gathering of Californian businessmen in 2000: ‘In our own country, we have been assured that our economic fundamentals are correct and sound . . . yet, the flow of investment into South Africa has not met our expectations, while the levels of poverty and unemployment remain high.’5 The South African journalist David Gleason developed this gloomy assessment of the neo-liberal turn with less diplomatic restraint in his column for the Sunday Business Report:

If it was done to satisfy international bankers and foreign investors, all in the name of encouraging inward investment, it hasn’t paid off. Foreigners continue to stay away from Africa. Our reputation for fiscal and monetary conservatism has earned us brownie points and not much else. Meanwhile, part of the price we’ve paid to achieve fiscal discipline has been self-induced starvation.6

Those who had hoped for something very different after the fall of apartheid may pose two contrasting lines of explanation. On the one hand, it can be said that the ANC-led government had no choice—external constraints, above all the nature of a globalized, inter-dependent world economy, obliged South Africa to follow the neo-liberal path. Anything else would have invited disaster. On the other, it may be argued that the ANC was never committed to radical reform—rhetoric aside, its core strategy never aimed to dismantle the structures of economic privilege, merely to broaden access to those structures so that a nascent black bourgeoisie could take its place alongside the established white one.7

It is not necessary to adopt either one of these propositions in its extreme form. South Africa’s first non-racial government faced daunting obstacles that made any programme of economic justice for the poor majority a risky venture. Those external pressures (both foreign and domestic) were not the only factors determining its course, however. The ANC and its partners brought their own weaknesses to the task at hand as they assumed government office for the first time. It would be inaccurate to claim that the liberation movement in South Africa had no vision of social change that might address the economic dimensions of apartheid as well as its political aspect. But the vision which it did possess was often too vague, or inspired by models that proved to be unsustainable. Moreover, its internal structures and outward strategies were found wanting by the challenges of the post-apartheid transition.

Weighing up the various elements which produced the outcome described by Trevor Ngwane and David Gleason requires a detailed analysis of the ANC’s trajectory during the anti-apartheid struggle and the transition to a multi-racial democracy. The starting point must be the drafting of the Freedom Charter, the programme which inspired the activists of the liberation movement during the most intense phase of their battle against the racist dictatorship.

The Freedom Charter—a political psalm? 

During the infamous ‘treason trial’ of the 1950s, which saw hundreds of anti-apartheid militants charged with subversion, prosecutors acting on behalf of the apartheid state accused the ANC of promoting Communism. The main proof that they offered was the recently-drafted Freedom Charter, which pledged that under ANC rule, ‘the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole’.8 Academic Jack Simons, himself a loyal Communist, was called as a witness by the defence, and ridiculed the suggestion that the Charter was Communist-inspired: ‘He pointed out that it contained no reference to the abolition of classes and the establishment of public ownership of the means of production. Such nationalization as was proposed characterized state capitalism rather than Communism; to a Marxist, said Simons, the Freedom Charter’s omission of specific terms for the transfer of wealth was inexcusable.’9

In the course of his own testimony before the court, then-ANC leader Chief Luthuli insisted that ‘it is certainly not Congress policy to do away with private ownership of the means of production’.10 Yet despite these explicit disavowals, the Freedom Charter remained a touchstone throughout the anti-apartheid struggle for those who wanted to see radical economic change. In part this was a result of the calculated ambiguity of the document. As Nelson Mandela’s authorized biographer notes: ‘It was carefully designed to be all things to all men . . . it proclaimed principles rather than policies, in a declamatory style like a political psalm.’11 Mandela’s own elaboration of the Charter’s social content in 1956 captured some of this ambiguity.

On the one hand, he argued that ‘the changes it envisages cannot be won without breaking up the economic and political set-up of present South Africa . . . the Charter strikes a fatal blow at the financial and gold-mining monopolies that have for centuries plundered the country and condemned its people to servitude.’ But Mandela was quick to predict that ‘the breaking up and democratization of these monopolies will open up fresh fields for the development of a prosperous non-European bourgeois class. For the first time in the history of this country the non-European bourgeoisie will have the opportunity to own in their own name and right mills and factories, and trade and private enterprise will flourish as never before.’12

It was perhaps easier for Mandela and other ANC leaders to reconcile the two sides of this vision because the concept of state ownership and intervention within a predominantly capitalist economy was considered far more acceptable at the time than it would prove to be when the ANC finally assumed power in the 1990s. After all, the apartheid regime itself had greatly expanded the state-owned portion of the South African economy in order to create jobs for the white working-class supporters of the National Party (NP). The reforms proposed by the Freedom Charter fell a good deal short of a comprehensive socialist programme. They held the promise, however, of a major encroachment on the economic power of white elites, which was heavily concentrated in the mining and financial sectors.

Socialists within the ANC could assure themselves that any government which took the mines and banks into public ownership would already have demonstrated a radical purpose and conviction. For all its ambiguity, the Freedom Charter contained a number of specific proposals whose implementation would require great courage and determination. The Charter could provide a bridge between political and economic liberation—but it would require the sort of clarification to be found in the ANC’s communiqué from the Morogoro Conference of 1969:

In our country—more than in any other part of the oppressed world—it is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the land to the people as a whole. It is therefore a fundamental feature of our strategy that victory must embrace more than formal political democracy. To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the root of racial supremacy and does not represent even the shadow of liberation.13

The liberation movement and the demands of struggle

What was the character of the movement that offered itself as a vehicle for the realization of the Charter’s objectives? The ANC defined itself as a multi-class alliance that sought to unite all those who suffered racial discrimination under the apartheid regime, rather than as a party which represented the specific interests of the working class. This meant that the Congress was a coalition of varying ideological perspectives, united by their opposition to apartheid. As Martin Murray puts it: ‘The ANC had long operated more as a clearing house for different points of view, a self-styled ‘ecumenical church’ without doctrinal discipline in which diverse currents jockeyed for influence, than as an ideologically coherent revolutionary organization.’14

The tendency to dilute social and economic demands to the lowest common denominator which this produced was accentuated by the ANC’s push to recruit international support for its cause. The long-standing assistance which the movement had received from African and eastern bloc states was complemented in the 1980s by a new ally—pragmatic sections of the western power elites that saw reform of the apartheid system as the only way to avoid a socialist revolution and keep Africa’s most developed economy open to western capital. Robert McNamara, architect of the Vietnam war and subsequently head of the World Bank, expressed this view in a Johannesburg speech in 1982, warning that ‘black nationalism in South Africa is a struggle whose eventual success can at most be delayed—and at immense cost.’15

It was natural that the ANC leadership, facing a desperate, life-or-death battle against the apartheid regime, should welcome support from whatever source. But Dale McKinley argues that this embrace was not accompanied by ‘a corresponding analysis, reflected in practice, of the specific strategic agenda of certain international actors . . . the ANC was content to adopt the tactic of talking to its different constituencies with different voices.’16 The goal of those who supported McNamara’s line was to establish a de-racialized capitalist economy in South Africa and block major social reforms in the aftermath of liberation. This agenda was naturally incompatible with the vision of the Freedom Charter and the Morogoro declaration.

As the struggle intensified in the 1980s and solidarity campaigners raised the demand for sanctions against Pretoria with growing success, the same pragmatic view began to surface within the South African capitalist class. Zac de Beer, a director of the giant Anglo-American corporation, summarized it with epigrammatic clarity: ‘We all understand how years of apartheid have caused many blacks to reject the economic as well as the political system. But we must simply get the facts across. We dare not allow the baby of free enterprise to be thrown out with the bath-water of apartheid.’17 The ANC’s legal mass organization, the United Democratic Front (UDF), was ready to exploit these emerging divisions: ‘In its bid to create as broad a united front as possible, the UDF began to woo white and black capitalists—a move that brought the UDF financial assistance and a constituency whose conceptualization of national liberation (as a means of getting a bigger and better slice of the pie) stretched its meaning to breaking point.’18

Along with the heterogeneous social base of the movement, the ANC’s internal structures left a good deal to be desired. In the words of John Saul: 

The ANC had had its own internal political practices moulded, at least in part, by the hierarchical imperatives of organizing for military purposes, protecting security in a quite hostile environment. Moreover, this transpired within an exile milieu that surrounded the movement on all sides with few models besides the authoritarian practices of both conventional nationalist regimes in the host African countries on the one hand and the Stalinist regimes of their East European backers on the other.19

The inadequacy of democratic practice within the ANC was to make it easier for the leadership to abandon traditional policies and accommodate itself to neo-liberalism—before and after the 1994 elections.

The ANC had a particularly warm relationship with the South African Communist Party (SACP). Along with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the two movements formed a ‘Tripartite Alliance’ to which great importance was attached by all of its partners. Many leading cadres had dual membership, among them Joe Slovo, the long-time commander of the ANC’s military wing and the first white member of its national executive. Even those ANC figures who had never been members of the SACP, among them Mandela and Walter Sisulu, were on excellent terms with its leadership and rebuffed attempts to drive a wedge between the ANC and its Communist allies.

This close relationship might have been expected to correct some of the problems created by the ANC’s multi-class nature and its lack of an explicitly socialist programme. The SACP was an avowedly working-class party with socialism as its goal. However, the party was not without its own weaknesses. By the standards of the non-ruling Communist parties, it remained notably orthodox and reluctant to cleanse itself of the Stalinist legacy. As one left-wing critic argued in the 1980s: ‘One searches in vain in the pages of The African Communist, the party’s official publication, for more than predictable propositions on so important an issue (not least to workers!) as Poland, for example. Moreover, the often savage tone adopted by many writers towards those on the left with whom they disagree does not augur very well for the SACP’s commitment to a genuinely democratic climate in future.’20

This negative assessment of the SACP’s political style found partial confirmation from no less a figure than Joe Slovo himself, as he reflected on the collapse of the Soviet bloc: ‘The commandist and bureaucratic approaches which took root during Stalin’s time affected Communist parties throughout the world, including our own. We cannot disclaim our share of the responsibility for the spread of the personality cult and a mechanical embrace of Soviet domestic and foreign policies, some of which discredited the cause of socialism.’ Slovo noted the existence of ‘sectarian attitudes towards some non-party colleagues, and sloganized dismissals of views which do not completely accord with ours . . . old habits die hard and among the most pernicious of these is the purist concept that all those who do not agree with the party are necessarily enemies of socialism. This leads to a substitution of name-calling and jargon for healthy debate with non-party activists.’21

Such negative habits made it virtually impossible for the SACP to have an honest debate, either within its own ranks or with others on the South African left, about the merits and failings of its political strategy and the responsibilities which it bore as the main socialist force in South Africa. In time, its enthusiasm for the Soviet model would leave the party in a demoralized and disoriented state after the fall of the USSR.

Whatever may be said about the shortcomings of the ANC and its partners, full account must also be taken of the brutal, murderous onslaught against the liberation movement during the uprising of the 1980s. The older ANC cadres who had been sentenced to life imprisonment in the 1960s might almost have considered themselves fortunate—their younger comrades, who kept the movement alive in the face of a ruthless terror campaign, were unlikely to be granted the formality of a trial. Secret death squads roamed the townships in search of anti-apartheid militants. The prevalence of the slogan ‘Don’t mourn, mobilize!’ among ANC supporters was a chilling reminder that the movement encountered violent death on a routine basis.

Even with the best will in the world, it would have been extraordinarily difficult for the ANC and the SACP to maintain a healthy internal democracy, or to nurture democratic structures beyond the limits of their own organizations:

Following the 1986 declaration of the nationwide State of Emergency, the security forces rounded up close to 25,000 persons, many of whom were detained without trial for long periods.  A long string of political ‘show trials’, often held in remote venues and frequently conducted in camera with ‘mystery’ witnesses who had been coerced or tortured into testifying for the prosecution, effectively criminalized above-ground political activities.22

During this phase of the anti-apartheid struggle, the conflict transcended the frontiers of South Africa, with the soldiers and proxies of the apartheid regime doing battle with black nationalist forces in Mozambique, Namibia and Angola. Pretoria was able to inflict enormous bloodshed and destruction on the Angolan and Mozambican people as a punishment for the aid which their governments provided to the ANC. A report issued by the US State Department described the civil war in Mozambique as ‘one of the most brutal holocausts against ordinary human beings since World War II’.23

The perpetrator of that ‘holocaust’ was Renamo, a force initially created by the Rhodesian government, then adopted by the agencies of the South African state after the demise of the Ian Smith regime. Angola suffered comparable devastation at the hands of Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA, which could rely on the direct battlefield support of the South African army. As Victoria Brittain wrote in 1988: ‘The monetary cost of regional destabilization between 1980 and 1986 is estimated at over $30 billion. This staggering figure is twice the combined total of foreign aid received by the nine Southern African Development Coordinating Council (SADCC) countries over the same period.  Much of the sabotage is never repaired and the region’s infrastructure has gone into a sharp downward spiral. Not surprisingly six of the nine are among the twenty-five poorest countries in the world and their debt-service ratios range between 80 and 150 per cent.’24

This implacable aggression against its neighbours, which enjoyed the blessing of the Reagan administration, delivered practical results for the government of P.W Botha. The Mozambican leadership was forced to sign the Nkomati accord in 1984, denying the ANC use of its territory for military operations against South Africa. The settlement which ended the South African role in Angola further restricted the ANC’s domain. Against this, however, must be set the humiliating defeat sustained by the apartheid army at the hands of Cuban–MPLA forces during the famous battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1988, which shattered the myth of invincibility cherished by the regime and its supporters, and may have done more to undermine apartheid than any guerrilla base could.25
The greatest achievement of the South African war policy was more insidious and drawn-out, and may not have been fully appreciated by the Botha cabinet at the time. The destruction of Angola and Mozambique by ‘apartheid’s contras’ (as Renamo was aptly dubbed) sabotaged any prospect of social and economic development in those states. Their governments were obliged to spend enormous sums on the military and could only watch helplessly as the prospect of social progress was extinguished by ceaseless warfare. The enormous pressure exerted by South Africa and its proxies also made it much less likely that the ruling parties in the two states would have the opportunity to correct the negative side of their own practice—namely, their failure to recognize the need for democratic pluralism and popular engagement in the task of social transformation.

The time-lag between the liberation of Portugal’s former colonies and the defeat of apartheid proved to be devastating for all concerned. We need only imagine an alternative scenario. If the ANC had taken power at the same time as Frelimo and the MPLA in Mozambique and Angola, the latter countries would have had the benefit of co-operation with Africa’s most developed industrial economy. The backwardness which was the dismal legacy of Portuguese colonialism could have been attenuated to some extent by the prospect of South African aid. Instead, they found themselves at the mercy of Africa’s most powerful and well-equipped army, with a budget for destruction many times greater than the resources they could allocate to development projects.

By the time Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s president, Frelimo and the MPLA had already sued for peace and renounced any attempt to follow an alternative development path. Washington accepted their capitulation in exchange for economic policies that amounted to‘re-colonization’. These defeats could only reinforce the fatalistic mood among ANC cadres about the imperatives of a global economy and the futility of alternatives to neo-liberalism—despite the incomparably greater social and economic resources which South Africa possessed by comparison with its neighbours.26

Negotiations and the end of apartheid

The struggle entered a dramatic new stage in 1990 with the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC. The motivation for these dramatic moves by Botha’s successor F.W De Klerk has been widely debated. De Klerk must have been aware that continued repression might keep the lid on the anti-apartheid movement, but could never deliver stability or international respectability: ‘More fully than Botha could do, he sensed the stalemate created by the National Party’s repressive checkmating of the near insurrection of 1984–86 to be unviable—fragile politically, formidably expensive, unconvincing to potential investors and other concerned parties abroad.’27 He must also have seen the positive side of recent developments on the international stage. According to Tom Lodge, De Klerk ‘was influenced by a range of considerations [but] especially important was the fall of the Berlin Wall which effectively ended any further prospect of Soviet support for the ANC’s armed insurgency’.28

De Klerk may already have been moving towards the position voiced by Robert McNamara in Johannesburg a decade earlier and since embraced by a number of South African capitalists: the dismantling of formal apartheid in order to preserve a de-racialized version of capitalism and block radical economic change. Transformation of the National Party’s social base and leadership cadre made this shift easier to manage. The new generation of NP leaders (the ‘new Nats’) marched in tight formation with upwardly-mobile Afrikaner businessmen who had climbed the social ladder under the party’s rule and could now abandon their less fortunate ethnic brethren: ‘Gradually the party began to cut itself away from its old constituency: secure in their economic privilege the new Nats inclined to leave the cause of defending fully institutionalized racism to strata more immediately vulnerable to black advance—the marginalized white farmers of the platteland and the remnants of the white working class.’29

It seems unlikely that De Klerk fully anticipated the eventual settlement between his government and the ANC. He appears to have cherished hopes that whites could retain a privileged status under the guise of ‘minority rights’ until the last stages of negotiation. But one goal of his can be clearly identified, and was maintained from beginning to end: preservation of the economic status quo. This is what De Klerk had in mind during his parliamentary speech announcing Mandela’s release, when he affirmed the need for ‘a sound economy based on proven economic principles and private enterprise’.30 The provisions of the Freedom Charter, or indeed any kind of social innovation and reform, could hardly be reconciled with such a model.

As the talks began, South Africa’s business elite set about ensuring that whatever political reforms were adopted, the economic order would survive intact:

The four top companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange . . . control around 80 per cent of the total stock equities and maintain a virtual stranglehold on large-scale business investment and financing in the country. While ANC policy-makers hinted broadly that they might subject these octopus-like conglomerates to strict anti-trust legislation in the future, the corporate giants wasted no time in mobilizing the enormous financial and intellectual resources at their disposal to combat whatever impetuous efforts might be mounted to meddle in what they considered to be their private affairs.31

The major corporations set about financing a deluge of reports by think-tanks, advisory groups and consultancy firms. Their work put forward a consistent vision for the future of South Africa’s economy, which excluded any form of state intervention, nationalization or wealth redistribution that would undermine the status of traditional elites.

Not that the pressure brought to bear on the ANC was solely intellectual. Far more significant was the horrific violence of the 1990–94 period. The apartheid regime sponsored the private army of Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, who sought to challenge the ANC for national leadership, and his so-called ‘Inkatha Freedom Party’ (IFP). Buthelezi’s shock troops received money and training from apartheid security forces as they launched a campaign of mass murder against the ANC and its supporters. Thousands of people were killed with the complicity of the state. As John Saul wrote in the midst of the campaign: ‘What can be confirmed quite unequivocally—from numerous first-hand accounts—is a pattern of police support for Inkatha’s ravages in both Natal and the Transvaal, a pattern that ranges from blatant non-intervention to more active involvement in mobilizing and transporting death squads within the townships.’32

From the perspective of the apartheid state, Buthelezi’s war against the ANC had a number of positive results. It limited the space for mass political agitation, which might have kept the ANC leadership under pressure to adopt radical economic policies: ‘On the ground the people were preoccupied with defending their communities from violent attacks . . . workers belonging to the most organized Alliance partner, COSATU, were also taken up with defending their communities, which severely affected their ability to direct their energies and efforts to organize around work-place demands and larger political issues.’33 It also increased the risks for the ANC’s negotiating team if they adopted an uncompromising line in the talks—failure to conclude a peace agreement could raise the spectre of all-out civil war. Finally, the existence of the IFP’s death squads was a grim reminder of the experience in Mozambique and Angola, where governments had paid the price for breaking with ‘proven economic principles’.

The nature of the political process which led to the 1994 settlement tended to reinforce the ANC’s elitist, top-down style of leadership. On the eve of the first multi-racial elections, veteran ANC loyalist Raymond Suttner warned that ‘the negotiations have had a dissolving effect on mass organization, a tendency for our constituency to become spectators . . . whatever the victory, we should not under-rate the strong sense of demoralization in our organizations.’34 The power of the ANC leadership, and above all Nelson Mandela, was magnified by the focus on discussions held behind closed doors at elite level, and the role of the grassroots membership correspondingly weakened.

The unique prestige of Mandela proved to be a vital asset for those urging the ANC to ditch left-wing economic policies. After emerging from prison the legendary resistance chief insisted at first that his party would hold firm to the pledges of nationalization and social reform contained in the Freedom Charter. But Mandela was repeatedly urged to abandon such ‘outdated dogma’ as he resumed his open political activity and became a roving ambassador for the ANC. According to Mandela’s authorized biographer, the tipping point in his mental evolution came during a visit to the World Economic Forum at Davos in 1992:

He was finally turned by three sympathetic delegates from the left. The Dutch [Labour Party] minister of industry was sisterly and understanding, but smashed his argument. ‘Look, that’s what we understood then,’ she explained, ‘but now the economies of the world are inter-dependent. The process of globalization is taking root. No economy can develop separately from the economies of other countries.’ Leaders from two Asian socialist countries—China and Vietnam—told him how they had accepted private enterprise, particularly after the Soviet Union collapsed. ‘They changed my views altogether,’ recalled Mandela. ‘I came home to say ‘chaps, we have to choose. We either keep nationalization and get no investment, or we modify our own attitude and get investment.’’
35

Before long, this fatalistic credo would become the gospel of the ANC leadership. The force of such arguments was reinforced by Mandela’s willingness to accept financial backing from any quarter—a continuation of the ANC’s drive to create the broadest possible front against apartheid in the 1980s. This attitude caused great discomfort to longstanding allies of the liberation movement: ‘In May 1993, [Mandela] welcomed tycoons at a fund-raising reception in the Dorchester Hotel, including old opponents of the ANC like Lord King of British Airways and Lord Weinstock of General Electric, who now competed to shake his hand. Mandela’s old friend Trevor Huddleston, who believed in ‘holy anger’, was dismayed to watch him forgiving men who had opposed sanctions and connived with apartheid.’36

Trevor Ngwane takes a caustic view of the role played by Mandela in the post-apartheid transition: ‘Without detracting from those twenty-seven years in jail—what that cost him, what he stood for—Mandela has been the real sell-out, the biggest betrayer of his people. When it came to the crunch, he used his status to camouflage the actual agreement that the ANC was forging with the South African elite . . . the ANC was granted formal, administrative power, while the wealth of the country was retained in the hands of the white capitalist elite . . . Mandela’s role was decisive in stabilizing the new dispensation.’
37 Whether the ANC leader is viewed as a ‘sell-out’ or a victim of the despair which took root among progressive movements in the immediate post-Soviet era, there can be no denying the weight carried by his voice in the crucial debates of this period.38

Against the strong ideological pressure—both foreign and domestic—against public ownership and redistribution of wealth, the left wing of the ANC and its SACP alliance partner should have formed a natural counter-balance, and moderated the influence of neo-liberal thinking among movement cadres. It was often remarked that the SACP had the distinction of being the only Communist party in the world to experience a dramatic rise in membership during the early 1990s. But despite its numerical gains and the enormous prestige it had earned within the liberation movement, the SACP suffered a drastic crisis of confidence after the fall of the USSR. Having scorned critical views of the Soviet system from non-party socialists for so long, the South African Communists were now forced to recognize the hopelessly flawed nature of that system.

Jeremy Cronin, the party’s deputy leader, later recalled that the SACP had traditionally seen the Soviet–Cuban model as one to be followed after liberation: ‘That simply had come tumbling down by the time we got to 1991. It wasn’t a plausible argument because things had gone terribly wrong.’39 Forced to discard their most cherished beliefs at short notice, the ANC’s Communist allies were in no position to challenge the arguments of South African neo-liberals: ‘In the rapid rush to stay ahead of the collapse of Soviet-bloc Communism, the SACP abandoned so much of its ideological canon that some political observers suggested that the party had become indistinguishable from a European-style social-democratic party.’40

In a deeply ironic twist, the SACP helped reinforce the ANC’s rightwards shift. Its size and reputation gave it more political weight than the rest of the South African left put together, and it offered a natural home for socialist-inclined anti-apartheid militants. Those militants were then subject to the imperatives of party discipline, and the SACP leadership resolved to support the dominant line within the ANC and the settlement which emerged from the talks. The ANC leadership could rest a little easier in the knowledge that its left flank was now being patrolled by the SACP.41

The other alliance partner, COSATU, went from strength to strength in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Its membership grew from 450,000 in 1985 to 1.3m in 1994 (total union membership, including other federations and unaffiliated unions, reached 3.2m workers—23 per cent of the economically active population).42 Between 1986 and 1990, more labour days were lost to work stoppages in South Africa than in the previous 75 years. There were often fierce debates within the emerging labour movement between ‘Charterist’ trade unionists who were partisans of the ANC, and ‘workerist’ militants who tended to give more stress to specifically working-class demands.

Both sides had to grapple with the problems raised by large-scale organization, a old dilemma in the history of the workers’ movement: ‘Even the medium-sized unions became complex bureaucracies, and constantly battled with problems of efficient administration, financial responsibility and the growing social distance between the ‘head office’ and the rank and file . . . trade unions were inextricably drawn into complex, multilateral bargaining positions, and even de facto partnerships, with the central state administration, political parties, and powerful representatives of big business.’43 The dangers of bureaucratization and absorption into existing power structures were compounded by the structural crisis of the South African economy, which created growing social differentiation within the working class:

With unemployment over 40 per cent of the active work-force, the cruel irony of the South African situation was that to have secured steady work in the formal sector amounted to a privileged status. South Africa’s continuing economic slump conspired both to undermine the market-place bargaining power of those wage-earners with steady employment and to marginalize the working poor, the unemployed and the unemployable . . . those millions outside of the formal economy—in the backyards of townships, in the shack settlements ringing the cities and in desolate huts in the barren countryside—formed the nucleus of a floating but permanent underclass. The popular organizations made little appreciable headway in organizing these marginalized ‘outsiders’, and the trade unions were unable to develop a workable political programme linking employed and unemployed workers.44

Another possible source of left-wing ballast was thus weakened by an economic crisis which was itself the product of South African capitalism. 

Transition to neo-liberal democracy 

The settlement which finally emerged from the talks contained a number of safeguards for those who feared the ANC might return to its leftist roots once it found itself in power. Even though the ANC won a clear overall majority, it was obliged to form a ‘government of national unity’ that included the National Party and Buthelezi’s IFP, both renowned for their commitment to free-market capitalism. Derek Keys of the NP continued as finance minister after the elections, while Chris Stahls remained in charge of the Reserve Bank. Chief Buthelezi became home affairs minister. These conservative beach-heads were complemented by entrenched positions in the state bureaucracy, thanks to ‘sun-set clauses’ that ensured functionaries of the apartheid system would retain their place in the civil service after the transition.

A ‘transitional executive committee’ had been set up in advance of the elections, including both the National Party and the ANC. Its first move was to secure an $850m loan from the IMF. As Patrick Bond notes, this aid was ‘ostensibly for drought relief, although the drought had ended eighteen months earlier’.45 The secret conditions attached to the loan were leaked to a South African magazine in advance of the elections, reassuring financial markets about the likely continuity of economic policy: the conditions included the usual IMF prescriptions, including lower import tariffs, big cuts in state spending and a substantial reduction of the public sector wage bill. The independence of the Reserve Bank, another classic neo-liberal policy, had already been agreed to by the ANC during the talks.

Economist Tito Mboweni, then working for the ANC’s Department of Economic Policy, had insisted in 1992 that any post-apartheid government would need to redistribute wealth if the South African economy was to experience sustainable growth that benefited the population: ‘In our growth path, accumulation depends on the prior redistribution of resources. Major changes will have to take place in existing power relations as a necessary condition for this new growth path.’46 This argument was difficult to fault, given the historic distortions of economic development in southern Africa:

Luxury goods are produced locally at close to world standards (if not prices) thanks to high relative levels of (traditionally white) consumer demand, based on extreme income inequality, decades of protective tariffs and the presence of major multinational corporate branch plants. Meanwhile, basic-needs industries are extremely sparse, as witnessed by the inadequate output of low-cost housing, dangerous and relatively costly transport, and the under-production of cheap, simple appliances and clothing (which are increasingly imported), at the same time that social services and the social wage have been set at extremely low levels for the majority.47

The case for redistribution on purely functional grounds was strong. But the compromises of the ANC leadership made the transformation in power relations envisaged by Tito Mboweni unlikely (Mboweni himself would follow a notably orthodox line when he replaced Chris Stahls as Reserve Bank governor in 1999).

The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) outlined by the ANC before the 1994 election set many ambitious social targets for the new government. However, it suffered from a crucial weakness, later identified by a COSATU discussion document: its failure to address macro-economic policy ‘aside for a couple of brief sentences, and two short paragraphs on the Reserve Bank . . . the ‘relegation’ of fiscal policy to implementation, and its presentation as a purely neutral issue of ‘macro-economic balance’ laid the basis for the elevation of fiscal policy to the highest level of policy, and the creation of a super-Ministry in the Department of Finance. Also, by putting fiscal policy under implementation it was presented as a technical issue, which was outside the realm of policy debate, and therefore left to the technocrats to ensure that ‘sound policies were followed’.’48

By 1996, the RDP had been shelved in favour of a new economic programme, Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR), which was firmly neo-liberal in its orientation. GEAR failed to meet its targets in almost every area: ‘Formal-sector non-agricultural net job losses from 1996 to 1999 amounted to 500,000, instead of the net employment gains GEAR had anticipated of 950,000.’49 The ‘redistribution through growth’ strategy—offered in place of the earlier ‘growth through redistribution’—failed to deliver the goods, for a number of reasons.

The vulnerability of the South African economy to currency speculation was one major factor. The ANC-led government bowed to pressure for the abolition of exchange controls maintained by its predecessor (which had allowed the apartheid regime to contain the damage inflicted on the economy by sanctions and capital flight in the 1980s). This left the South African economy particularly vulnerable to the Asian financial crisis of 1998: ‘Had Pretoria not listened [to the clamour for liberalization], and maintained existing controls in 1995 and perhaps even further tightened them, it is fair to predict that the currency would not have crashed, from R3.5–US$ in 1994 to R6–US$ in January 2000 to R13.85–US$ in December 2000.’
50 The need to maintain exceptionally high interest rates in order to protect the rand, and the crippling effect of those rates on productive investment, led business commentators to use the term ‘sado-monetarism’ when describing the ANC’s policy.

In addition to the financial turbulence which undermined economic growth, privatization of state-owned companies failed to deliver the anticipated rewards. A US–Malaysian consortium bought 30 per cent of Telkom, the state phone company, in 1997. They soon removed the cross-subsidization of calls (previously, local calls had received a large subsidy from the charges for expensive long-distance calls) and resorted to a practice known as ‘churning’ in the provision of phone lines: ‘In order to prove to government it has connected sufficient lines to warrant continuation of its monopoly status, Telkom simply re-uses old connections, raises its prices for local calls, cuts off customers when they can’t pay and reconnects them (usually under another name), only to disconnect them all over again.’51

Nelson Mandela’s hope that neo-liberalism would bring a steady influx of trans-national companies, ready to provide South Africa with the capital needed for economic development, was not fulfilled. Most foreign direct investment (FDI) resulted in acquisitions of established South African firms, rather than expenditure on fresh, green-field projects. In fact, there has been a net out-flow of FDI since 1994—mainly thanks to the relocation of major South African firms to new bases, in particular London (typically, the core of the firm’s business remains within South Africa, but its HQ is outside the country).52

The pressure applied to the national government was replicated at all levels of the state. Trevor Ngwane became an ANC councillor in Johannesburg after 1994, and recalls the influence of municipal officials in determining economic policy:

It soon became clear that the bureaucracy was frowning on community control. Officials would talk about ‘the contradiction between development and democracy’ and the councillors weren’t strong enough to question that. A lot of them were naïve and well-meaning but didn’t really know what they wanted to do. The bureaucrats had an interest in undermining them—they would prepare the agenda, describe how many meetings there should be. Of course, this couldn’t have happened without the ANC’s tacit consent. The mood changed within the ruling ANC caucus: robust debates became muted; decisions were taken away from councillors and we were discouraged from participating in local community forums. There were issues we couldn’t discuss. The crunch came when they announced a big financial crisis for Johannesburg; they had ‘just realized’ the city was in the red.53

That dramatic announcement came in 1997, and was used to pave the way for a comprehensive privatization scheme adopted by the city’s administration two years later. Jeremy Cronin of the SACP also describes the role of the state bureaucracy in decision-making: ‘Increasingly policy is formed by directors-general of government departments and their senior management, or even worse still, by external and very often private sector consultants from the EU or North America.’
54 Despite the withdrawal of the National Party from the ruling coalition in 1996, South African capital remained by far the most influential voice in economic debates, largely at the expense of the ANC’s own supporters. In the light of this experience, it was hardly surprising if some began to suggest that ‘RDP’ actually stood for ‘Rumours, Promises and Dreams’.55 that we are not even able to contemplate measures which have been introduced in a number of social democracies and capitalist developmental states—often despite and against the wishes of capital. A passing study of the USA New Deal, the European Social Democracies, East Asian Tigers etc. will reveal that many of the key reforms had to be imposed ‘against the logic of capital’, who had to be brought kicking and screaming to the party.’ Discussion document for COSATU central committee, ‘The NDR and Socialism, the NDR and Capitalism: Key Strategic Debates’, African Communist November 2007]

Globalization and solidarity—lessons of the AIDS campaign

The ANC had to walk a difficult tightrope once it became the governing party. While it had abandoned any plan to redistribute wealth, the party had been elected to power by the votes of millions of poor people who expected democracy to bring tangible improvements in their lives. The ANC leadership could therefore not be seen to discard its traditional heritage with too much enthusiasm. It was better for the government to appear fatalistic and resigned, and for ministers to place the blame on factors beyond their control. The natural culprit was ‘globalization’.

ANC spokesmen have tended to speak of globalization as if it was a force of nature, rather than a man-made process. In 2000, South Africa’s trade minister Alec Erwin told a UN development conference that any notion of reversing globalization was illusory: ‘To think this is possible is like trying to prevent the spread of electricity because we fear being shocked when we don’t take care.’56 The same year, Thabo Mbeki assured the ANC’s national council that ‘the process of globalization is an objective outcome of the development of the productive forces that create wealth, including their continuous improvement and expansion through the impact on them of advances in science, technology and engineering.’57

Needless to say, the effect of such statements can only be to breed a sense of powerlessness among those who deplore the consequences of this supposedly unstoppable force. They also tend to conceal the social interests which lie behind neo-liberal globalization. In the same speech, Mbeki ridiculed the notion that anyone had ‘formed a secret committee to conspire to impose globalization on an unsuspecting humanity’. He did not address, however, the more sophisticated and widespread view that globalization in its current form was produced by a convergence of interests between economic and political elites in many different countries, especially in the industrialized North.

Perhaps the most explicit statement of this fatalistic attitude came in a document published by the ANC in 1996:

The democratic movement must resist the illusion that a democratic South Africa can be insulated from the processes that characterize world development. It must resist the thinking that this gives South Africa a possibility to elaborate solutions which are in discord with the rest of the world, but which can be sustained by virtue of a voluntarist South African experiment of a special type, a world of anti-apartheid campaigners, who, out of loyalty to us, would support and sustain such voluntarism.58

By a curious irony, this proved to be a strikingly accurate description of the struggle to make AIDS treatment accessible to the majority of South Africans.

Of all the social problems that South Africa has had to confront in the post-apartheid era, HIV/AIDS is surely the gravest. By 2001, there were an estimated 4.7m people infected with HIV, a figure that had increased to 5.7m in 2007 (the total population of South Africa in that year was a little under 49 million).59 The extent of the problem led then-health minister Dr Nkozana Dlamini-Zuma to introduce the Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1997, allowing the South African government to use parallel importing and compulsory licensing as weapons in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Both practices were explicitly permitted under international trade rules, and would drastically reduce the otherwise prohibitive cost of anti-retrovirals needed to treat HIV/AIDS victims: ‘Patent rights for the HIV cocktail would cost the South African health service an inconceivable $10,000 per Aids patient. Using the mechanisms under Clause 15c [of the 1997 act] would reduce the costs by between 50 and 90 per cent.’60 Nonetheless, western pharmaceutical corporations were unwilling to accept the reduction in profit margins which the Medicines Act would entail and lobbied hard in Washington for action against Pretoria. The Clinton Administration threatened to impose trade sanctions on South Africa if the offending clauses were implemented. ‘Big Pharma’ also brought a high-profile legal action against the South African government.

The stance of the US government and the drug companies prompted an outraged response from anti-AIDS campaigners in the west, who strongly backed the right of South Africa to use parallel importing and compulsory licensing. Vice-President Al Gore faced organized protests during his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, prompting him to modify his support for the position of the pharmaceutical companies. NGOs including Oxfam and Médécine sans Frontiers lobbied heavily for the withdrawal of the lawsuit against South Africa, which was eventually dropped in 2001.

South African ‘voluntarism’ had thus been granted space by the efforts of a solidarity campaign launched outside the country’s borders. The government of Nelson Mandela’s successor Thabo Mbeki now had the opportunity to launch a comprehensive AIDS treatment programme and mitigate the horrendous social impact of the epidemic. Instead, the South African president won international notoriety by rejecting the overwhelming scientific consensus and embracing maverick figures who claimed that AIDS was not caused by HIV. Mbeki even argued that anti-retroviral drugs were more likely to kill people than the AIDS virus itself.61 He strongly defended health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang when she argued that garlic and beetroot could be used to cure AIDS.

The roots of this bizarre and disastrous episode did not lie solely in the personal eccentricities of the South African leader. A serious anti-AIDS campaign would have conflicted with the neo-liberal spending priorities of the government. As former ANC advisor Patrick Bond put it: ‘The enemy is not only in the New Jersey headquarters of pharmaceutical corporations, but in the Pretoria economic ministries that dole out funds.’62 The South African government only made anti-retrovirals available in 2002 after a legal action taken by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), which had played a leading role in the earlier battle against Big Pharma (Thabo Mbeki accused the TAC of being ‘a front for the drug companies’, a claim that stretched credibility well past breaking point).

Even after the TAC’s victory, AIDS treatment was only available to a minority of those who needed the drugs. In a bitter irony, campaign spokesman Mark Heywood now appealed for international pressure to be brought to bear against Pretoria itself: ‘We’re treating only 17 per cent of people with Aids. What is happening in South Africa is a human rights violation that needs leadership from outside of South Africa to address the crisis being created by the South African government.’63 At a conference held in Toronto in 2006, UN envoy Stephen Lewis launched a harsh attack on Mbeki’s government, describing its AIDS policies as ‘wrong, immoral and indefensible’ and deriding the theories of Mbeki and Tshabalala-Msimang as ‘more worthy of a lunatic fringe than of a concerned and compassionate state’.64 130 HIV-positive women from South Africa applied for political asylum in Canada after attending the conference, arguing that they were being denied adequate treatment at home.

The embarrassment caused by its policies forced a U-turn by the South African government within months of the Toronto AIDS conference: ‘The ministers now in charge unambiguously state that there is an AIDS crisis, that policy is based on the conclusion that HIV causes AIDS, that anti-retrovirals help people live longer and nutrition is not an alternative to treatment.’65 But the reversal of policy had been delayed for years at a time when AIDS was claiming almost a thousand South African lives every day. A story that began with South Africa rejecting attempts by Washington to dictate its economic policies and receiving the support of an exemplary solidarity campaign had ended in a malign farce. Thabo Mbeki’s government had offered a tragic lesson in how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

A new elite rises 

When the first cracks in the ‘Washington Consensus’ began to appear in the late 1990s, one might have expected the ANC to respond with relief and sympathy. The challenge to neo-liberalism held out the promise of a broader space for national governments to pursue their own development agenda. Instead, the typical reaction of ANC ministers could be described as bewildered hostility. Finance minister Trevor Manuel, then chair of the World Bank–IMF board of governors, appeared perplexed by the demonstrations at the Prague meeting of 2000: ‘I know what the protesters are against but I don’t know what they are for!’66 His cabinet colleague Alec Erwin had taken a blunter line during the first major summit protest in Seattle the previous autumn: ‘The protesters don’t know what they’re talking about.’67

Amateur psychologists might be tempted to diagnose a case of ‘Stockholm syndrome’—having been held hostage by the World Bank and the IMF for so long, South Africa’s ruling party now identifies with its captors and their ideology. Pleasing as this analogy may be, it requires qualification. For the leadership of the ANC and the broader social milieu which surrounds them, the ‘cage’ imposed by capitalist globalization has proved to be rather more gilded than for the great majority of their supporters.

That much was obvious to The Economist, a magazine which has always possessed a sound instinct concerning such matters, when it identified the shifting class nature of the ANC in 1996:

For all the fears that resentful ANC socialists would confiscate wealth, the new breed shares the same capitalist aspirations as the old. Though black incomes are barely a sixth of white ones, a black elite is rising on the back of government jobs and the promotion of black business. It is moving into the leafy suburbs, such as Kelvin and Sandton, and adopting the outward symbols of prestige—the BMW, swimming pool, golf handicap and black maid—that so mesmerize status-conscious whites.68

The consolidation of the new post-apartheid elite has been noted within the ruling alliance. Reflecting on more than a decade of ANC rule, a COSATU document made a telling recommendation: ‘We need to return to the culture of service to our people, and challenge the culture of leadership entitlement mentality—‘I did not struggle to be poor’.’69 Jeremy Cronin of the SACP has described ‘a rapid emergence within the ANC of a new capitalist class . . . it’s not a separate black bourgeoisie. There’s one bourgeoisie in South Africa, but a small but significant component of that South African bourgeoisie is now a black stratum, the majority of who are deeply linked into the ANC.’70

Not that the SACP itself has escaped this phenomenon. Dale McKinley gave a scathing report of an event held during the party’s 11th congress in 2002: ‘No doubt in need of some extra-curricular activity after days of somber discussions about how best to make good on the congress slogan ‘With and For the Workers’, the SACP hierarchy trekked off to Sun City for a fund-raising bash with the barons of South African capitalism. Seated at tables (that came with price tags of up to R35,000 [US$3352]) alongside representatives of worker-friendly corporations like Anglo-American and De Beers, the self-professed leaders of the ‘vanguard of the working class’ got down to real business.’71 The fund-raiser was said to have earned the SACP almost one million rand.

McKinley is a hostile critic of the SACP, having been expelled from the party for his persistent opposition to the leadership and its political line. But his remarks found partial confirmation in the report presented by the SACP’s central committee to the next party congress, held in 2007:

The capitalist world and petty accumulation for instance have tended to be very tempting even for some of our own cadres. We should make absolutely sure that resources that are raised in the name of the SACP, all find their way into the SACP! If some of our comrades decide to enter the capitalist world, they should be open about it, and not use the Party for such purposes . . . we were the first political party in this country to come out and demand of its members, especially the leadership collectives at all levels, to declare their interests. We are afraid to report that this has been done by very, very few comrades.72

The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman famously described globalization as a ‘golden strait-jacket’. For those lucky enough to find themselves close to the ruling circles of the ANC, Friedman’s theory has often proved to be correct. Those who voted the ANC into power might see things in a different light.

Policing liberation 

The emergence of a new black elite, and its unwillingness to contemplate a serious rupture with the economic status quo, brings with it a dilemma for the ruling party. Barely two decades ago, South Africa experienced one of the most intense phases of mass political struggle in modern history: its population was often described as the most politically-conscious anywhere in the world. If the post-apartheid settlement failed to satisfy minimal aspirations for social development, would the masses that brought the ANC to power now mobilize against it? Would the ANC respond by using repression against its supporters, in a disturbing echo of the apartheid past? A comparison with neighbouring Zimbabwe can shed some light on this question.

Thabo Mbeki’s warm relationship with the Mugabe regime proved to be corrosive of his international reputation—even more so than his stance on HIV/AIDS. Mbeki continued to shield Robert Mugabe long after it became clear that the Harare government was responsible for vote-rigging and gross human rights violations. That much is uncontroversial for observers of southern African politics. What is less clear is why Mbeki should have embarked on such a damaging course of action.

Journalist R.W Johnson offered the following explanation in the violent aftermath of the 2008 Zimbabwean elections:

Mbeki’s fundamental position was that, as a fellow national liberation movement (NLM), Mugabe’s ruling Zanu–PF had to be maintained in power at all costs. According to this theory, the NLMs of southern Africa are those movements which used armed struggle to overthrow white rule—that is, the ruling parties of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In Mbeki’s and Mugabe’s minds Western imperialism is engaged in a struggle to overthrow the NLMs and restore, if it can, the preceding regimes . . . Zimbabwe is the weakest link here, which means that the other NLMs must defend Zanu–PF to the death, for if Zimbabwe ‘falls’ South Africa will be the next target.73

Yet Johnson himself goes on to note the implausibility of this theory: ‘To be sure, for many years their parties took an orthodox Marxist-Leninist line . . . [today, however] not just Zimbabwe and South Africa but all the other states ruled by NLMs have retained mainly capitalist economies, and everywhere a new black middle class is attempting to establish itself. Indeed, the intransigence of the Zanu–PF leadership derives essentially from the fact that it has used state power to enrich itself and is determined to hang onto its enormous gains.’74 It is hard to see why western capital would consider it imperative to overthrow such regimes when they are granting perfectly adequate space for money-making.

It is surely better to see the theory attributed to Mbeki (one which he may well have elaborated 75) as a superficial rationalization of deeper motives. Zimbabwe must have presented an alarming spectacle to the South African president: a ruling party which derived much of its legitimacy from a long national liberation struggle, locked in battle with an opposition movement formed by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in alliance with other social organizations and headed by the former ZCTU chief Morgan Tsvangirai. Robert Mugabe had first come to power after signing a peace agreement that contained many deliberate obstacles to radical economic reform. His first cabinet included several ministers from the white-settler dictatorship in strategic roles.76

Mugabe’s cynical deployment of socialist rhetoric and his opportunistic embrace of land reform (after nearly twenty years of inaction) should not obscure the fact that Zimbabwe was a model pupil of the IMF for many years. Finance minister Bernard Chidzero steered through classic Structural Adjustment Programmes during the 1980s and 90s: it was in response to the cutbacks which followed that the Zimbabwean trade union movement began exploring the need for a political vehicle to challenge Zanu–PF hegemony. A US banker had the measure of Robert Mugabe within two years of his accession to power: ‘I feel it is a political pattern that Mugabe gives radical, anti-business speeches before government makes pro-business decisions or announcements.’77

Thabo Mbeki and others in the ANC leadership might indeed have harboured the fear that if Zimbabwe ‘fell’, then South Africa would be next. But the likely agent of this fall would not be ‘Western imperialism’, but trade unions and other social movements unwilling to accept the realpolitik of the ANC. There has been no Zimbabwe-style repression in South Africa to stave off this threat. However, there have been enough worrying examples of intolerance in ruling circles to justify fears about the likely health of South African democracy, if the ANC has to deal with a serious challenge to its authority and remains unyieldingly committed to its present course.

Democracy within the ANC itself is vitally important, given its total dominance over the electoral stage since the end of apartheid. Jeremy Cronin has described the erosion of the party’s democratic structures during its time in government: ‘It’s a struggle, fighting to make the NEC what it should be, the main policy forum between conferences of the ANC . . . overall the trajectory has been a diminishing of the significance of the NEC. We’ve always had many of us, Blade [Nzimande, the SACP general secretary] and others and myself, trying to use it, but we’ve been through a tough several years in the NEC. We’ve been marginalized, shouted down, subject to heavy presidential attacks, beginning with Mandela.’78 The ANC’s Alliance partners also had reason to feel dissatisfied: in an open letter to ANC members published in 2007, the SACP complained that ‘for years we have had to endure from some quarters of the ANC consistent displays of contempt and disdain for the elected national collective leaderships of the SACP and COSATU.’79

The treatment of Jeremy Cronin himself by the ANC leadership offered further evidence of a troubling lack of pluralism within the movement. Cronin was interviewed by Irish socialist Helena Sheehan in 2001 and made a number of critical points about the ANC’s orientation that were taken up by the South African press. Read in context, the interview could certainly not be seen as a harsh diatribe against the ANC, and Cronin was often keen to defend the Mbeki government against left-wing critics from outside the party.

Nonetheless, Cronin was subjected to a torrent of attacks by ANC loyalists, which reached a peak in the broadside of Dumisane Makhaye. Makhaye derided Cronin as a ‘white messiah’ and addressed a general warning to critics of the ANC leadership: ‘There are dogs who are biting the ANC and these dogs are calling themselves our friends . . . the ANC is strong. Some of us are prepared to die for the ANC and to kill for the ANC.’80 Cronin responded to the criticism by offering an ‘unqualified apology . . . in its approach, tone, and in the discussion of many internal matters outside of our organizations the interview was a mistake . . . the undisciplined handling of serious issues can, precisely, undermine the fostering of robust debate, criticism, self-criticism and unity within our movement.’81 Cronin emphasized his repentance by making the implausible claim that ‘by and large, the ANC and the government have maintained consistent anti-neo-liberal positions on all the key issues of the day.’82

Those recantations prompted a concerned intervention by journalist William Gumede:

Be worried, very worried, about SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin’s grovelling apology for ‘uncomradely’ public criticism of the ANC . . . the problem is that in the ANC the exile culture predominates. It is one of excessive control, centralization of power, absolute loyalty and the discouragement of open electoral contests . . . a loss of internal debate in the ANC has important implications for open debate in society. Quashing debate internally will inevitably lead to a muzzling of debate in broader society.83

A leadership culture that initially developed under very different conditions proved extremely useful in holding the line against internal critics of the neo-liberal course.

When dissenters have refused to back down, the ANC has moved quickly to expel them. Trevor Ngwane was a councillor for the party in Johannesburg when he spoke out against the privatization programme adopted by the city’s leadership: ‘Within three days, the ANC suspended me from all my positions, including those in the Council. I faced a disciplinary hearing for bringing the party into disrepute. Then they tried to make a deal, saying ‘ok, if you publicly recant your statements, we’ll reduce the two years’ suspension to nine months’ . . . I went to my constituents, and they said ‘No, you can’t apologize’. It was then that I became an independent.’84 Ngwane became one of the chief organizers of the Anti-Privatization Forum, a coalition of social movements opposed to the economic policies of the ANC government.

The verbal aggression of Dumisane Makhaye is not unique. Thabo Mbeki spoke at the SACP conference in 1999 and described critics of GEAR as ‘charlatans . . . confidence tricksters . . . scavenging on the carcass of a savaged ANC’.85 The previous year he had addressed the national congress of the South African teachers’ union and accused its members of being ‘greatly inspired by the value system which motivates the traitor and the criminal’.86 Moreover, the hostile tone deployed by ANC leaders has on several occasions been matched by the use of direct physical repression against protest movements.

Trevor Ngwane describes the use of force in the execution of land clearances: ‘If you want to shift people from the place they’ve lived in for fifteen years—and from one shack to another, not to proper housing—then you have to bring in the Red Ants [special riot units], the crowbars, the back-up police. With electricity cut-offs, violence can be unavoidable.’87 The willingness of the ANC to order violence against its own supporters became clear in the summer of 2007, when COSATU led the biggest public-sector strike in South African history:

Picketers came under repeated attack by police using tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades and batons. The ANC government mobilized thousands of soldiers as strike-breakers in hospitals throughout South Africa. Thousands more, decked out in bullet-proof vests and armed with automatic weapons, were provocatively stationed at picket lines outside hospitals and schools, and near protest marches. More than 3000 health workers, deemed ‘essential workers’, were sacked for striking. The ANC government and mass media relentlessly demonized the strikers, in particular health workers and teachers, singling out isolated incidents to paint a false picture of widespread ‘intimidation’ and ‘violence’.88

The most arresting comment made during the strike came from army spokesman Colonel Sydney Zeeman, who told reporters that the South African army had ‘deployed units nationwide in our traditional role of providing support for the police’. As Norm Dixon pointed out: ‘Zeeman could only be referring to the ‘tradition’ established under the hated apartheid regime!’89 There could hardly be a better illustration of the limits of change in the new South Africa.

The fruits of democracy

In its report to the party’s 2007 congress, the SACP leadership might have been expected to put a positive spin on the first decade of the post-apartheid era. After all, it had remained locked in a close partnership with the ANC throughout that period, and SACP members had served as cabinet ministers in the ANC government, implementing its policies. This makes its summary all the more damning:

The stabilization and return to growth of the capitalist economy has strengthened established big capital—the very forces who shaped a century of colonial and apartheid oppression and minority accumulation. Despite legislative gains, the working class has suffered from one million job losses in the formal sector, and from wide-scale casualization. A million farm-workers and their families have been evicted from commercial farms in the last decade. Some 37 per cent of the work-force is unemployed and social (mainly racialized) inequality has deepened. Rural women and women living in peri-urban settlements continue to bear the brunt of poverty and the crises of under-development. Conditions in our often under-resourced and overcrowded public schools and public hospitals are dire.
90

The same document rejects the claim that globalization left the South African leadership with no alternative: ‘Their calculations have tended to privilege the hostile global environment without adequately using the generally favourable internal balance of forces . . . the overwhelming support and legitimacy of the ANC, coupled with a wider sympathy in the immediate post-apartheid period, could have been used to pursue much more radical policies.’91 Given the evidence that we have considered in this essay, it is hard to fault the SACP’s judgement, both of the outcome and of the space for alternative paths.

It may be argued that even if there were alternatives to the course followed by the ANC, the risk they implied was too great. Not only would the new authority have had to face the threat of capital flight and other methods of economic de-stabilization, but the old elites might have attempted to plunge South Africa into civil war, exploiting the followers of Chief Buthelezi for their purposes. This danger has to be considered very seriously: the fate of Angola and Mozambique, devastated by years of conflict, is a dire warning of what might have happened without a peaceful hand-over of power.

A stern critic of the ANC like John Saul acknowledges the force of this argument when he argues that ‘the relative ease of the political transition was principally guaranteed by the ANC’s withdrawal from any form of genuine class struggle in the socio-economic realm and the abandonment of any economic strategy that might have been expected directly to service the immediate material requirements of the vast mass of desperately impoverished South Africans.’92 However, a real danger cannot be taken as a certainty. Renamo and UNITA were able to inflict such devastation on their respective countries because of the support they received from the racist dictatorships in Rhodesia and South Africa, and from the United States. It would have been far more difficult for Washington to aid a rebellion against the ANC, given its immense prestige and that of Mandela, while the Afrikaner elites would have thought long and hard before plunging the country into a destructive conflict that might have extinguished their own prosperous lifestyles.

Moreover, it cannot be argued that South Africa has escaped violence because of the ANC’s decision not to pursue socio-economic change. The catastrophic impact of the AIDS crisis is a most brutal reminder of the truism that extreme poverty is just another form of violence. Account must also be taken of the crime epidemic which has beset post-apartheid society. As Philip Gourevitch puts it: ‘The banishment of white-supremacist rule did not bring an end to South Africa’s divisiveness and inequality; the terms were merely reconfigured. In the place of political violence, the nation has been plagued by one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world. Most of the victims, like most of the perpetrators, belong to the vast black under-class.’93

The xenophobic violence which erupted in 2008 is perhaps the most sinister example of the ‘reconfiguration’ described by Gourevitch. At least fifty immigrants were murdered, while over thirty thousand were driven from their homes. While the scale of the violence was thankfully not as great as has been seen in other African countries, it reinforces a grim warning previously issued by John Saul: ‘If South African blacks are not effectively mobilized in terms of class interests and for purposes of national development goals and socio-economic transformation, they may well fall back on more exclusively ethnic loyalties to ground their search for moorings in the unstable social universe that is the new South Africa. And if these things were to occur, might not the ‘chaos’ that negotiations are said to have prevented merely be found to be bubbling up again, within the electoral arena and elsewhere, in new and even more dangerous forms?’94

This lends a greater urgency to the question—can the ANC-led alliance change direction? And if it cannot, can a new movement take up the banner of radical economic transformation? A COSATU document has suggested measures that would form the basis of a new Alliance pact: ‘Implementation of nationalization provisions of the Freedom Charter . . . an end to privatization and commodification of service delivery . . . adoption of an economic policy to ensure redistribution of wealth to the poor . . . [and] abolition of legislation that is not worker-friendly.’
95 The same document affirms the need for ‘greater public ownership of strategic sectors of the economy’ and ‘genuinely comprehensive social security measures, preferably in the form of a Basic Income Grant’ and warns that ‘powerful forces in society, within the state, media, and overwhelmingly from capital will resistance implementation’ of such policies.

Former ANC advisor Patrick Bond has urged the South African government to ‘impose disincentives to inflows of hot money such as temporary taxation . . . on all profits not made through fixed investment . . . the objective would be to reverse existing market incentives that reward disinvestment from productive activity and reinvestment in financial assets.’96 Bond argues that measures of this type would shift the balance of FDI from mergers and acquisitions to productive investment. He does not ignore the powerful international forces that constrain governments, but points to the example of the AIDS crisis as evidence that solidarity networks across national borders can undermine those constraints:

The case of the Treatment Action Campaign proves that sometimes international solidarity against the source of oppression—whether pharmacorps or the Bretton Woods institutions—will be required, simply so as to ensure that nation-states can gain the space to implement measures in the interests of their constituencies, where these conflict with transnational corporate and banking interests.97

This is a very brief survey of the alternative economic strategies that have been proposed. There is certainly no shortage of ideas. But is there a political vehicle? The SACP and COSATU still maintain the hope that the ANC can be won round to a new, left-wing orientation. They will have to consider whether the symbiotic relationship between leading ANC cadres and a new black bourgeoisie—which they have themselves noted—makes a parting of the ways between sections of the Alliance inevitable. The Gauteng provincial congress of the SACP took a first step in that direction in May 2007 when it voted overwhelmingly for the party to begin running its own election candidates from 2009.98

The evidence appears strongly in favour of those who argue that the ANC is irreformable and that left-wing forces in South Africa will have to build a new movement. While that argument may continue, it is surely beyond dispute that South Africa’s liberation from apartheid has not delivered on its promise nor satisfied the aspirations of those who fought against the National Party regime for so long. The future of the country depends on a new struggle against the economic apartheid which survived the transition to democracy and prevents Africa’s wealthiest nation from offering a model of social development to the rest of the continent. Until then, South Africa’s democratic revolution will remain unfinished.

 

Notes

Show 98 footnotes

  1. Heidi Holland, The Struggle: a history of the African National Congress (New York, 1989) p. 231
  2. Martin Murray, The Revolution Deferred: the painful birth of post-apartheid South Africa (London, 1994) p. 19
  3. Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (London, 2007) p. 215
  4. Trevor Ngwane, ‘Sparks in the township’, New Left Review July–August 2003
  5. Patrick Bond, Against Global Apartheid: South Africa meets the IMF, the World Bank and international finance (London, 2003) p. 128
  6. ibid., p. 280
  7. These lines of explanation can be found in awkward co-existence in a discussion document published by the ANC itself in response to criticism from its partner, the South African Communist Party (SACP). The SACP is accused of ‘failing to analyze in any significant way the domestic and global balance of forces at the point of the democratic breakthrough in 1994’ which excluded the option of any ‘rapid and uninterrupted transition to socialism in South Africa’. Yet the same document asks: ‘Where, in any of its formal documents and conference resolutions, did the ANC declare that its objective was socialism?’ The ANC’s social base is identified as ‘black workers, the rural poor, black middle strata and the black aspirant or real capitalist class’, its goal being to promote ‘the common interests of these classes and strata’. To what extent these social groups can be said to have common interests at all is open to debate, but it is surely uncontroversial that no ‘aspirant or real capitalist class’ is likely to support a transition to socialism of any pace. ANC, ‘Managing National Democratic Transformation: ANC response to SACP discussion document’ (2006): www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/misc/2006/anc_sacp.html
  8. Anthony Sampson, Mandela (London, 1999) p. 92
  9. Holland, The Struggle p. 113
  10. ibid., p. 113
  11. Sampson, Mandela p. 92
  12. ibid., p. 95
  13. Nyiko Floyd Shivambu, ‘National Liberation, the NDR and Socialism—resurgence of the indispensable discussion’, African Communist November 2007
  14. Murray, The Revolution Deferred p. 118
  15. Dale McKinley, The ANC and the Liberation Struggle: a critical biography (London, 1997) p. 56
  16. ibid., p. 56
  17. John Saul, ‘South Africa—the Question of Strategy’, New Left Review November–December 1986
  18. McKinley, The ANC and the Liberation Struggle p. 61
  19. John Saul, The Next Liberation Struggle: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in Southern Africa (Toronto, 2005) p. 180
  20. Saul, ‘South Africa—the Question of Strategy’
  21. Joe Slovo, ‘Has Socialism Failed?’ (1990): www.sacp.org.za/main.php?include=docs/history/1990/failed.html
  22. Murray, The Revolution Deferred p. 73
  23. John Saul, ‘Rethinking the Frelimo State’, Socialist Register 1993
  24. Victoria Brittain, ‘Cuba and Southern Africa’, New Left Review November–December 1988
  25. This appears to be the view of Nelson Mandela, who visited Cuba in 1991 and emphasized the debt which his people owed to Cuban soldiers: ‘The decisive defeat of the aggressive apartheid forces destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor. The defeat of the apartheid army served as an inspiration to the struggling peoples of South Africa.’ Richard Gott, Cuba: a new history (Yale, 2005) p. 279
  26. This was confirmed by Jeremy Cronin, the SACP’s deputy leader, in an interview with Irish socialist Helena Sheehan: ‘I think the huge challenge of the post-1994 period has been to keep socialist aspirations, culture, morality, alive and resonant within the South African reality. I think we’ve somewhat succeeded, but it’s an uphill struggle, for a variety of reasons. Obvious reasons being, first of all, external reality, which is not just the collapse of the old Soviet bloc, but the rolling back of the social-democratic left project and, dramatically for us here in South Africa, the rolling back, the falling apart really, of the radical Third World project in Mozambique and Zimbabwe and Angola and arguably in Vietnam. Those have impacted heavily on morale and orientation here in the South African liberation movement.’ Helena Sheehan, webpages.dcu.ie/~sheehanh/za/cronin-aah01.htm ‘An Interview with Jeremy Cronin—part 1’ (2001)
  27. John Saul, ‘South Africa: Between ‘Barbarism’ and ‘Structural Reform’ ’, New Left Review July–August 1991
  28. Tom Lodge, Mandela (Oxford, 2006) p. 165
  29. Saul, ‘South Africa: Between ‘Barbarism’ and ‘Structural Reform’
  30. McKinley, The ANC and the Liberation Struggle p. 104
  31. Murray, The Revolution Deferred p. 21
  32. Saul, ‘South Africa: Between ‘Barbarism’ and ‘Structural Reform’
  33. McKinley, The ANC and the Liberation Struggle p. 116
  34. Saul, The Next Liberation Struggle p. 200
  35. Sampson, Mandela p. 435
  36. ibid., p. 480. Mandela’s readiness to embrace potential allies, irrespective of their track record, earned him bitter reproaches from the East Timorese liberation movement FRETILIN, after he visited Indonesia and accepted a $10m donation from the dictator Suharto without mentioning the near-genocidal occupation of the former Portuguese colony. Aboriginal activist Gary Foley was equally irate after Mandela’s tour of Australia: ‘I think it’s a political obscenity for him to be coming here and sucking up to all the people who wouldn’t lift a finger for him while he was in jail.’ McKinley, The ANC and the Liberation Struggle p. 112
  37. Ngwane, ‘Sparks in the township’
  38. Speculation about Mandela’s internal thought process can find intriguing material for discussion in the address which he gave to COSATU’s national congress in 1993. Mandela asked the delegates of South Africa’s trade unions: ‘How many times has a labour movement supported a liberation movement, only to find itself betrayed on the day of liberation? There are many examples of this in Africa. If the ANC does not deliver the goods you must do to it what you did to the apartheid regime.’ Saul, The Next Liberation Struggle p. 73. Was he seeking to pre-empt and disarm left-wing criticism of the ANC’s new direction? Or did this remarkable exhortation betray uneasiness on Mandela’s part, and perhaps the hope that COSATU’s membership would eventually push the boundaries of the post-apartheid settlement beyond the limits then accepted by the ANC leadership?
  39. Helena Sheehan, ‘An interview with Jeremy Cronin—part 2’ (2001): webpages.dcu.ie/~sheehanh/za/cronin02.htm
  40. Murray, The Revolution Deferred p. 127
  41. Martin Murray argues that the murder of the ANC’s Communist deputy leader in 1993 deprived the Congress left of its most able tribune: ‘The assassination of the charismatic Chris Hani—the most popular politician in the ANC besides Nelson Mandela—left a yawning gap on the ANC’s populist, militant left wing that could not readily be filled.’ ibid., p. 123. Hani’s murderer, a white ultra-rightist, eventually appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to make the bizarre and flagrantly implausible claim that he had killed Hani because he feared the latter was plotting to assassinate Nelson Mandela. He is unlikely to have appreciated the subtleties of the ANC’s internal dynamic.
  42. ibid., p. 142
  43. ibid., p. 143–160
  44. ibid., p. 35–36
  45. Bond, Against Global Apartheid p. 68
  46. Saul, The Next Liberation Struggle p. 205
  47. Bond, Against Global Apartheid p. 41
  48. Discussion document for COSATU central committee, ‘Framework for an alliance government and elections pact’, African Communist November 2007
  49. Bond, Against Global Apartheid p. 41
  50. ibid., p. 294
  51. ibid., p. 127
  52. ibid., p. 141
  53. Ngwane, ‘Sparks in the township’
  54. Sheehan, ‘An interview with Jeremy Cronin—part 2’
  55. Another COSATU document railed against the timidity of the post-liberation government: ‘It is a sad indictment on the direction of our NDR [national democratic revolution
  56. Bond, Against Global Apartheid p. 122
  57. ibid., p. 139
  58. ibid., p. 147
  59. UNAIDS–WHO working group on Global HIV–AIDS and STI Surveillance, ‘Epidemiological fact-sheet on HIV and AIDS—South Africa—2008 update’: www.who.int/globalatlas/predefinedReports/EFS2008/full/EFS2008_ZA.pdf
  60. Ed Vulliamy, ‘How drug giants let millions die of AIDS’, Observer December 19th 1999
  61. Chris McGreal, ‘South Africa ends long denial over AIDS crisis’, Guardian December 1st 2006
  62. Bond, Against Global Apartheid p. 179
  63. Sarah Boseley, ‘AIDS campaigner calls on world leaders to speak out against Mbeki’, Guardian August 18th 2006
  64. Andrew Meldrum, ‘HIV-positive South Africans seek asylum in Canada’, Guardian September 4th 2006
  65. McGreal, ‘South Africa ends long denial over AIDS crisis’
  66. Bond, Against Global Apartheid p. 215
  67. ibid., p. 214
  68. Saul, The Next Liberation Struggle p. 211
  69. Discussion document for COSATU central committee, ‘Framework for an alliance government and elections pact’
  70. Sheehan, ‘An interview with Jeremy Cronin—part 1’. Cronin also refers to a damaging side-effect of this process for the South African left: ‘The private sector is desperately looking for a fig-leaf of bright black people that it employs as its public face. So if you’re a young bright black intellectual currently, there’s a lot of space, a lot of upward mobility, often into the private sector, which has all sorts of corrupting influence on lots of young people. So people who 15 years ago would have been leading activists and intellectuals, who would have taken part in debates of the Left and reading Gramsci and debating Althusser and so on, are now in business.’ Sheehan, ‘An interview with Jeremy Cronin—part 2’
  71. Dale McKinley, ‘SACP Congress reaffirms support for ANC’, Green Left Weekly 21st August 2002. The Sun City event rendered the use of business-speak by SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande in his address to the 11th congress more than a little ironic: ‘As Communists, let us be very clear: we are deployed, first and foremost, to the anti-capitalist sector. We are deployed to the anti-private accumulation struggle. That is our profession. The class struggle is our primary listing. The workers and the poor are our core business.’
  72. Political report of the SACP’s 11th Congress Central Committee as tabled before the 12th Congress, ‘The South African Road to Socialism: Build Working-Class Hegemony, For a Socialist Oriented National Democratic Revolution’ (2007): www.sacp.org.za/main.php?include=docs/conf/2007/pol_report.html. This may explain why the SACP has often been reluctant to identify the evolution of the ANC and its synthesis with the ‘new breed’ of black capitalists. In a statement recommending a vote for the ANC in the second post-apartheid election of 1999, the SACP affirmed its opposition to GEAR, but insisted that ‘our comrades in government applied GEAR with good intentions to safe-guard the RDP’. An avowedly Marxist party might have been expected to probe a little deeper below the surface. SACP, ‘Every Socialist, Every Worker—vote ANC’ (1999): www.sacp.org.za/main.php?include=docs/pamphlets/2005/socialist.html
  73. R.W Johnson, ‘Report from Zimbabwe’, London Review of Books May 8th 2008
  74. ibid.
  75. On occasion Mbeki’s paranoid rhetoric has veered into outright absurdity, as can be seen in the following statement: ‘The anti-neo-liberal coalition hopes that it will trample over the fallen colossus, the ANC, and march on to a victorious socialist revolution, however defined. Better still, it hopes that by engaging in all manner of manoeuvre, including conspiring about who its leaders should be, it can capture control of the ANC and use it for its purposes. To achieve these objectives, the anti-neo-liberal coalition is ready to treat the forces of neo-liberalism as its ally. Therefore it joins forces with them, together to open fire on the ANC and our government.’ Dale McKinley, ‘Mbeki attacks the left’, Green Left Weekly October 16th 2002
  76. These included commerce and agriculture. A contemporary article by John Saul could easily be applied to the South African transition: ‘The game of the most intelligent of this white bourgeoisie must now be—in Fanon’s words—‘to capture the vanguard, to turn the movement to the right, and to disarm the people’. Part of the tactic here consists, as we have seen, of threat, tacit or otherwise (capital flight, flight of personnel, industrial and agricultural collapse), and part will consist of the most obvious of carrots (promotions, agencies, directorships, even bribery, on the Kenyan model). But part of it, too, will be to draw ‘the vanguard’ ever more firmly onto the cultural terrain of international capitalism and to make the values and modus operandi of this global system the ‘common-sense’ of the new African petit-bourgeoisie-in-the-making. This will mean, in the Zimbabwean case, encouraging the making of a virtue of the necessity of ‘pragmatism’ and ‘compromise’. It will be part of the class struggle which will be fought not in the bush but on such prosaic ‘battlefields’ as the sundowner circuit, the ministerial office and the business meeting over lunch at Meikle’s Hotel or the Salisbury Club.’ John Saul, ‘Zimbabwe: The Next Round’, Socialist Register 1980
  77. Bond, Against Global Apartheid p. 72
  78. Sheehan, ‘An interview with Jeremy Cronin—part 2’
  79. SACP, ‘We can’t go on like this . . . together, let’s make sure things change—an SACP open letter to the ANC membership’, African Communist November 2007
  80. Saul, The Next Liberation Struggle p. 333
  81. ibid., p. 233
  82. ibid., p. 234
  83. ibid., p. 233–4
  84. Ngwane, ‘Sparks in the township’
  85. Saul, The Next Liberation Struggle p. 218
  86. ibid., p. 218
  87. Ngwane, ‘Sparks in the township’
  88. Norm Dixon, ‘Strike ends, COSATU declares ‘victory’ ’, Green Left Weekly June 29th 2007
  89. Norm Dixon, ‘Sackings fuel national strike, protests’, Green Left Weekly June 14th 2007
  90. Political report of the SACP’s 11th Congress Central Committee as tabled before the 12th Congress, ‘The South African Road to Socialism: Build Working-Class Hegemony, For a Socialist Oriented National Democratic Revolution’
  91. ibid.
  92. John Saul, The Next Liberation Struggle p. 202
  93. Philip Gourevitch, ‘Struggles’, New Yorker June 9th 2008
  94. Saul, The Next Liberation Struggle p. 73
  95. Discussion document for COSATU central committee, ‘Framework for an alliance government and elections pact’
  96. Bond, Against Global Apartheid p. 277
  97. ibid., p. 284
  98. Norm Dixon, ‘Strike ends, COSATU declares ‘victory’